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Twenty-time champion jump jockey AP McCoy said he is “proud” after being knighted in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

He becomes the only jockey alongside Sir Gordon Richards to be knighted. Sir Gordon received the honour in 1953.

AP said it was an “unbelievable privilege and honour” that he “wasn’t expecting”.

AP bowed out of racing at the 2014-15 National Hunt season finale at Sandown in April after two decades at the top of his game.

During his career he rode a total of 4,348 winners.

“We’ve been fortunate to have AP McCoy dominate jump racing for such a length of time and his knighthood is well deserved and long awaited,” said British Horseracing Authority’s Nick Rust.

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The racing star was also recently presented with a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards. In 2010 he became the first jockey to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

Equestrians honoured

Two volunteers were honoured for their services to the Riding for the Disabled AssociationValerie Blake from the Arrow Riding Centre in Dartford, Kent and Elizabeth Gibbons from south west Cornwall were both given British Empire Medals.

Mary Thornley from Essex was also honoured services to equestrianism with a British Empire Medal. The district commissioner for the Essex and Suffolk Pony Club lives in Great Oakley. She is also a British Dressage judge.

Professor Nigel Gibbens, chief veterinary officer, DEFRA, was named CBE for services to the veterinary profession.

The Honourable Heather Galbraith of Eglinton Horse Trials was named an MBE for her services to equestrianism in Ayrshire. She has run the event since 1959.

“I was surprised and thrilled,” she told H&H. “It’s an honour. I’ve had many messages of support, I’m amazed by the amount of people who have noticed, it’s been wonderful.”

British Eventing (BE) chief executive, David Holmes, added: “It is wonderful to see Heather awarded with an MBE in the 2016 New Year Honours; for her tireless dedication to eventing and equestrianism the recognition is thoroughly deserved. Without incredible organisers like Heather our sport simply would not run and we are hugely grateful for her commitment and enthusiasm to BE and Eglinton.”