Tony McCoy’s relentless pursuit of his 4000th winner continued yesterday at Ffos Las when the champion jockey rode his 3,991 national hunt winner. AP is now just nine winners short of the 4,000 winner milestone and has in the process put in place a record that will probably take generations to break.
For those unfamiliar with national hunt racing, AP McCoy is somewhat of a living legend. He is the only jockey to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year and has been British Champion National Hunt Jockey every year since 1996! That’s 18 championships in a row. McCoy currently stands on 109 winners for the 2013-2014 campaign and with 2nd placed Noel Fehily on 58 winners to date it hard not to see McCoy making it 19 titles in a row.
Remarkably, since 1980 only four men has held that title of British Champion National Hunt Jockey. John Francome (1980-1985), Peter Scudamore (1986-1992), Richard Dunwoody (1993-1995) and McCoy have had the honour. Other jockeys in the weigh-room must curse their luck at having come along in the same generation as AP. Jason Maguire (144) and Richard Johnson (133) both comfortably broke the 100 winner barrier last year but were still streets behind McCoy (185). During the 2011-2012 season, Johnson rode 153 winners and was still nearly 50 behind AP (199). In fact, a glance at the post-war history of the British Champion National Hunt Jockey’s list shows it’s getting harder to win .
end of the 1970s was less than 89. The dominance of Francome, Scudamore and Dunwoody raised the mean to 141. AP McCoy’s average number of winners since becoming Champion Jockey in 1996 is an incredible 205 per season!
Outside of McCoy’s insatiable drive to win, other factors that have allowed this to happen include, more frequent race meetings, improvements in modern technology, relatively cheap air travel and enhanced horse and jockey nutrition. The use of helicopters and private aircraft now allows jockeys to ride at different courses on the same day, an unthinkable course of action during the days of Fred Rimell, Fred Winter and Stan Mellor. That said the passion of AP to win at even the smaller venues is unmatched. His 20th title is surely a matter of time and given his attitude who knows how many more he will win.