The final furlong; AP McCoy closes in on his 4,000th winner

AP McCoy is one win away from recording a breathtaking 4,000 wins in his illustrious racing career.


With an average of one fall every 16 races, McCoy has hit the turf hundreds of times in his career. Spring next year will see McCoy turn 40 and despite injuries including broken middle & lower vertebrae, shoulders, collarbones, ribs, ankles, cheekbones, wrist, leg, teeth and thumb McCoy has gritted his teeth and saddled up time and time again, such is his desire to bring home the next winner. Each fall could signal the end of his career but McCoy’s tenacity in the face of such danger is testament to the longevity of his career.

Another individual who is synonymous with the word longevity is horse racing fanatic and former Manchester United Manager Alex Ferguson. Ferguson made headlines just over 10 years ago in the horse racing community in relation to the part-owned horse, Rock of Gilbraltar, who Ferguson had seen win seven Group one races as a three-year-old. Ferguson’s name was not included in the list of owners when the colt went to stud. Ferguson began legal proceedings to contest the decision, which ended up being settled for £2.5million after tax. Scottish sportswriter Martin Hannon puts Ferguson’s decision to forfeit his rights to the horse into context:-

“The biggest mistake Sir Alex ever made was taking John Magnier to court in the first place, but the second biggest was turning down the chance to own the progeny of this fabulous horse.”

The horse’s first foal was sold at auction in Ireland for a cool EUR400,000. The 2013 stud fee for the Horse stands at EUR17,500. Only time will tell how much Ferguson has missed out on.

Many footballers have paid the price of getting involved with Horse Racing, notable high profile current and former footballers with reported gambling issues include: Dominic Matteo, Wayne Bridge, John Terry, Scott Parker, Keith Gillespie, Michael Chopra, Matthew Etherington, Steve Claridge and Paul Merson. In contrast no-one can dispute the success stories of the two Micks; Quinn and Channon, who have mirrored success on the field with success on the track. Both have become successful trainers who have set the bar for the likes of Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Joey Barton and Joe Cole who all own their own racehorses. Rooney and Owen’s horses are trained by Tom Dascombe. Whilst the pair were both under Alex Ferguson’s guise at Manchester United Owen introduced Rooney to Dascombe. To date Rooney’s prowess as an owner does not match that of his footballing abilities, having laid out £80,000 on his horses for a return of just £5,000. Owen on the other hand in 2010, took home £400,000 in prize money and his passion for horse racing is clear to see from his own words:-

“When you retire, you have to have something that grips you and gives you that adrenaline thrill. I’ve been in racing for 10 years and it is the only thing that matches the thrill of scoring a goal.”

Owen’s enthusiasm for horse racing definitely mirrors that of McCoy’s and no-one can sum up McCoy’s passion and dedication better than the legend himself:-

“I’ve never taken drink or drugs in my life, and don’t know what it does for most people, but this is the nearest thing I’ve had to a drug…It’s what I’ve always lived for and gives me the greatest high. Nothing has ever given me more satisfaction. I’m a realist, but it is the worst thing trying to contemplate not riding. It is an unbearable thought.”

We wish AP the best of luck in his upcoming races and who would bet against the Northern Irishman pursuing 5,000 wins!

Kevin Darley – Sports Consultant