*Exclusive* ‘I’ve seen what Dad’s been through’: why Eve McCoy is aiming for success in a different sport to her famous father

  • Eve McCoy on advice from dad champion jockey AP, why she chose showjumping over racing, and maintaining a social life while following her dreams and home-schooling

    Eve McCoy, the 14-year-old daughter of 20-time champion jockey Sir AP McCoy and Dragon’s Den judge Chanelle, is fast making a name for herself on the showjumping circuit. Eve has both winning genes and ambition – and catching up with her in the midst of a successful season it’s clear she’s also well used to the hard work and dedication it takes to get to the top.

    “Obviously the help I’ve had from my Mum and Dad, with the amazing horses I have been given, explains some of my success,” she says, with previous top rides including the pony Moores Pride and horse Elia and current speed horse Cocktail D’Azur. But there has definitely been a lot of training and hard work paying off in recent years, too, and fantastic coaching from the likes of Shane Breen. Eve is currently trying to find the right balance between her sport and schooling.

    “I am in my GCSE year and am home-schooled at the minute. I was at Cheltenham College, but I found it quite difficult juggling school and riding. Now we have a tutoring company who tutor me from home and it’s worked out a lot better. I do four hours a day.”

    Eve’s timetable is pretty full on – she is based in Lambourn with her family, but all her horses are stabled with Lea Popely in West Sussex and then she trains with Shane Breen, who is based at Hickstead.

    “I go down there three or four times a week. It’s quite far from my house – 2 hours and 20 minutes. Either my mum or dad will take me – basically anyone I can find to take me down,” explains Eve.

    On the days she doesn’t go to train, Eve has an extra-long day at school to make up for the time she’s missed.

    “Or I’ll go and see my friends,” she says. “It’s nice going to see them – they are not doing quite the same thing as me, they are all in school, so it’s really nice catching up with them.”

    When Eve was boarding at Cheltenham College she was training with Eleni Murphy, who was based in Preston, “very far away”. “I was leaving on a Friday night and arriving back to school on a Monday,” she explains.

    The risks of home-schooling

    Eva, who has a friendly and modest demeanour, admits the change to home-schooling came with risks. “It’s quite a big social change, and a bit depriving of your social life – but thankfully I’ve been able to keep my friends,” she says. “I am definitely enjoying living at home again, but sometimes because me and my mum are so similar, and even my dad, too, we can get on top of each other a bit. My mum works from home and my dad is retired.”

    Coach Shane Breen has long been a regular on Ireland’s Nations Cup teams, and Eve raves about him as a trainer.

    “He is such a top-class rider and his work ethic is amazing,” she says. “I’ve learnt so much from him, especially how important the groundwork is – the flatwork and nailing the basics before you move on to jump bigger. When I first began training with him it was such a completely different atmosphere and suddenly I was in such a professional environment and I was really impressed how hard he worked – how hard you have to work in showjumping.”

    Unsurprisingly, given her father was one of the most driven jump jockeys in history, AP has passed on similar advice to Eve.

    “My dad has taught me how important it is to work really hard. To make sure you are not making the same mistakes and that you are learning every time you do. It’s motivating having such a successful father, because hopefully one day I’ll be just as good as him but doing something a bit different.”

    Eve McCoy: “no pressure” from parents

    Eve is keen to emphasise that her parents put no pressure on her to choose riding as a sport or career.

    “I always knew I wanted to do something with horses. I was always a bit more interested in showjumping [than racing] because maybe I thought it was a little bit more glamorous,” she laughs. “And much safer. My parents weren’t very keen on me racing and obviously I’ve seen what my dad’s been through with all his breaks and bruises – I wasn’t really that interested in ending up in the way his body’s all messed up now.”

    Eve McCoy has already achieved a lot in her showjumping career, including riding on children on horses teams internationally and qualifying for and riding at Horse of the Year Show.

    “That was one of the wow moments for me, because I had never been in an atmosphere like that,” she says of her NEC experience. “At HOYS there were so many people and so many amazing top riders competing at the same show as me.

    “A few years ago, I jumped on the children on horses team at Vilamoura, and I did all the Nations Cups; it was such a surreal experience because it was the first time I had jumped out of the country and I was surrounded by lots of different people my own age but from different countries.”

    The search for Eve McCoy’s next partner

    Currently Eve has only got one horse to compete, Cocktail D’Azur, but she is on the hunt for another.

    “My pony Moores Pride was sold and my horse Elia has just gone too. At the minute I just have Cocktail D’Azur, who’s my speed class horse. I’m looking for another horse to hopefully do the juniors on at the minute. We are looking to get one in the next month or two – it just depends if we find the right one. We want something I can jump the juniors on and we want it soon enough so that I can build up a good record and be ready for the trials.”

    Cocktail D’Azur has been in brilliant form this summer.

    “He did really well at Hickstead and so we want to carry on that track. He’s so nice to ride and you can tell he really enjoys it – he loves to go quick. I think he knows when he is going into the jump-off. You have to get off and get back on again and he knows that when you’re back on its time.”

    We end our catch-up with some kit advice – Eve being equally fashion and safety conscious. She is currently wearing Animo and says: “I love it, it’s so amazing for all seasons and they have such a wide range of choices. That’s my jacket, shirt, socks, jodhpurs. I have a Sellaria Equipe saddle, which is through Zebra products. It is amazing. And I wear Samshield hats – they are so safe and pretty. My Dad is quite strict on helmets because he’s had so many injuries and he loves these hats.”

    With such dedication and the right training, horses and support, we look forward to seeing what Eve can achieve in the future – starting with junior trials if that right horse can be found.

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