After dominating the sport for two decades, champion jockey AP McCoy rode his last race at Sandown Park on Saturday (25 April).
“I always dreamed of getting out while I was still performing well. I’m going to miss what I do… What I did,” he said. “The most emotional moment was riding in front of the stands [after the last race] with the people clapping and cheering.
“I almost shed a tear then. I almost shed a tear going out for the race, too, but I quickly pulled down my goggles.”
AP had two rides on his final afternoon in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,000 at the Esher racecourse. He began by finishing third on the Paul Nicholls-trained Mr Mole, in a Grade 1 race named in the jockey’s honour, the Bet365 AP McCoy Celebration Chase.
His last ever ride came on the Jonjo O’Neill runner Box Office in the Bet365 Handicap Hurdle, when he again finished third. Both horses were owned by his loyal supporter JP McManus, in whose familiar silks AP won the Grand National in 2010.
“It’s a great privilege to wear the green and gold colours, which is why today had to be how it was,” he said.
He retires on a career total of 4,348 winners and he bows out having been crowned champion jockey for the 20th year in succession.
“Enjoy every moment because it goes much too quick,” he said to his weighing room colleagues, who all lined up in a guard of honour for the 20-time champion before the presentation of the championship trophy.
In honour of his achievements and the contribution McCoy has made to the sport, the silverware was decommissioned by British Racing and presented to him to keep permanently.
JP McManus added his own tribute after AP’s final race: “I’m a great admirer of his, not just as a jockey but as a man. He has the respect of everybody.”
Read more about McCoy’s record-breaking career and don’t miss next week’s Horse & Hound (out Thursday, 30 April) for the full story and reaction to his retirement.