A.P. McCoy is the greatest jump jockey that has ever lived. McCoy set an unprecedented record of being Champion Jockey every single year of his career despite breaking every major bone in his body along the way.
Over the course of his career McCoy has broken his cheekbone, collarbones, shoulder blades, multiple vertebrae in his back, multiple ribs on multiple occasions, wrist, arms, thumbs, legs, and ankles. He has also suffered numerous haematomas, punctured lungs and chipped teeth.
In a sport that is relentlessly physically punishing, the level of sustained success McCoy has attained was previously considered impossible. Many argue it will never be repeated.
In 2002, he set the record for most wins in a season for a jockey with 289 winners, beating Sir Gordon Richards record of 269. In 2003, McCoy surpassed Richard Dunwoody’s record of 1,699 winners to become the most successful jump jockey of all time.
In 2013, McCoy reached an unprecedented milestone of 4,000 winners. This achievement is truly remarkable; only one other jockey has achieved over 2,000 winners and no other jockey has ever ridden 3,000.
Over the course of his career McCoy has won every one the most prestigious races in the National Hunt season including the Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, King George and Grand National. In 2010, he was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year becoming the first ever jockey to win the award.
What I learnt from AP McCoy in his own words:
“I think in any walk of life you have to believe. You have to believe but you also have to be prepared to work harder than anyone else. It’s not that I don’t believe I have talent but I believe I have the talent to work harder than anyone else.”
“I sometimes have doubts but I’ve never had doubts when I’m on a horse. If I have a bad day without a winner or something’s happened that shouldn’t have, I come home and it will grate on me all evening. It’s not as bad now since I’ve had kids because they take your mind off it a little bit but that will grate on me and I will have huge doubt going to bed. But, when I wake up the next morning and when I go racing the next day it’s gone. There is no doubt. I don’t know how or why, but I’ve always been lucky to convince myself. I’m a believer that it’s going to happen.”
“I always think that you need something to chase. You have to set yourself new goals. You have to – not in an ignorant way or in a bigheaded way but your biggest opponent is then yourself. You have to beat yourself, otherwise you just end up like everyone else and float through life.”
“I always feel like I have to challenge myself. I can never be as good as good as I want to be. I have never, ever, ever been as good as I want to be. I will never, ever get where I want to be. I’ve never come home and thought, ‘I’ve got where I want to go.’ I can’t ever catch what I’m chasing. It keeps moving away from you. It never stays, I never get close enough to catch what I want to. I never get close enough.”
“I’m going to come across here like an arrogant fool but…what are limits? I don’t know what the limits are. I’m one of those people that keeps going forward whatever happens – I’m not saying I don’t look back but I don’t know what the limits are. I’m one of those people that doesn’t recognise any limits. There are no limits. Limits might be as good as you can do, but that doesn’t mean to say someone else can’t do better. Therefore that’s your limit but it’s not everyone’s limit. What are my limits? I don’t know. There are no limits in my mind.”
“I know the difference between the pain of breaking something and the pain of being sore. That’s just something that happens to you with experience.”
“I know that I’m going to end up in the back of an ambulance. For the last 20 years I’ve ridden between 800 and 1,000 horses every year. I know for a fact that I’m going to hospital. That’s just the way it is. I don’t try and gloss over it but a lot of the time I’ll be riding and I think I’m unbreakable and I think I’m invincible. When I do end up in hospital I think, I got unlucky. I was unlucky that time. That won’t happen again.”
“No matter what you do in life, if you want to be continually successful you have to really enjoy it. It has to be your passion. It’s not meant to be work. You get people that are so wealthy and you think; why are they still doing it? Simple, that’s just what they want to do. I think to be continually successful at anything in life you have to really, really enjoy it. I’ve genuinely never done a days work in my life.”
“From 22 to 32, I didn’t know what was going on in the world. In a very selfish way, it was all about me. I couldn’t care less what anyone else was doing. I was in my own little bubble. Now, I always stop and give autographs and smile for pictures but between 22 and 32 I’m not sure I probably did that a lot. I didn’t see anyone at the races, I didn’t know or care what was going on around me. As far as I was concerned they were in my way. In a horrible way, everyone was in my way. I was just like a little robot that was going around not caring what problems someone else has, not my problems. I just became a robot.”
“I am a stats person. When I’m long gone there will be a lot of people who think they’re better jockeys than me riding but when they look at statistics they’ll think, he was Champion Jockey more than anyone else and rode more winners than everyone else. I’ve always been a stats person because statistics don’t lie. You can’t dispute them. That’s just always been my point of view and I’ve always thought that I want my statistics to be better than they are. I also have a fear that within about 15 years the records are gone, it could all be gone. That’s what keeps me going, that’s what makes me want to get better and that’s what makes me want to win more. If someone is going to win more than me in the next 15 years or so, they’re going to go through a horrible lifestyle. Whoever does it, I’ve made it hell for them.”
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