Tony McCoy: ‘I have been very flattered by the reaction’ following news of retirement

Champion jockey AP McCoy has broken records throughout his sublime career.

Champion jockey AP McCoy has broken records throughout his sublime career.

By Simon Jackson.

Tony McCoy has admitted that he has been flattered by people’s reaction since he announced earlier this month that he will retire from race-riding this season.

McCoy, the first jockey to ride 3,000 and then 4,000 winners, bagged his 200th winner of the campaign when landing the Grade 2 Betfair Price Rush chase on Mr Mole at Newbury on February 7.

A 20th jockeys’ championship appears certain for the 40-year-old who confirmed on his Cheltenham Festival blog that he has yet to decide on the precise date of his retirement.

“Since I made my retirement announcement I have become a little more used to the idea of retirement, I am even trying to give myself the chance to enjoy it,” the 19-time champion jockey said on his Cheltenham blog.

“I realise that my career is coming to the end but I am happier in myself now it is out in the open rather than when I was keeping it to myself during the two weeks building up to it. So I am a little happier but I know it is going to go quickly and that is the worrying thing.

“The main reason I wanted to announce it when I did was that I didn’t want to get through Cheltenham and Aintree to a point where there wasn’t much news in the racing world and have people saying I was about to win my 20th title and then have someone writing about whether I would or would not carry on. I didn’t want to be reading about that so I thought it best to get my plans out in the open.

“I hoped the day I announced my retirement would never come, and as I said jokingly I have been thinking about it for five years. But in many ways it was five years ago as I thought that if I won another five jockeys’ championships it would be 20 years I had been champion, and that is a long time for a jockey.

“I have always had a fear of riding on too long, and I want people to think I could and should be riding a bit longer rather than people thinking I shouldn’t still be riding. I want to go out while it is still going to hurt me to retire and while I was Champion Jockey, rather at a time when I wasn’t quite so successful.

“I have been very flattered by the reaction I have received but at the same time I find it a little embarrassing as I don’t want people to think I am dragging it out – that was never my intention. I do appreciate the interest, support and good wishes but I still have a job to do, and the guy who has backed me to win doesn’t care if I am retiring or not.

“I had originally thought I would like to go out on one of JP and Jonjo’s horses but I have had a lot of people asking about when my final ride will be and saying they would like to be at the races that day so I maybe need to give it a bit more thought.

“I will try and give everyone notice of when it will be but I am still not sure myself. It won’t be at Cheltenham as I do want another crack at the Grand National, and I intend to make the most of the next few weeks as I know they will fly by.”

Read ‘Horse Talk with Simon Jackson’ at London24 for the latest horse racing news.