Mountain Tunes may be just a normal promising four year old gelding trained by Jonjo O’Neill and racing in the green and yellow colours of J P McManus, but from Thursday 7th November 2013 it will always be remembered as the horse on which jockey A.P McCoy claimed his 4,000th national hunt winner in Britain and Ireland. The Irishman rode the horse to victory at Towcester to set a record which may never be broken.
To ride 4,000 jumps winners is a serious achievement given that no other jockey has ridden over 3,000 and when Stan Mellor reached the 1,000 winner milestone in 1971, it was considered one of the great sporting milestones.
Tony McCoy rode his first winner over national hunt rules in England at Exeter during 1994 aboard Chickabiddy and has since been champion jockey 18 times with Richard Johnson usually the perennial runner-up.
He has experience the ups and downs of British horse racing in receiving his fair share of injuries without ever losing that will to win throughout his career.
His expression of sheer joy when he won the Grand National for the first time in 2010, when riding Don’t Push It, will live long in the memory, but amid all the plaudits which will be deservedly lavished on McCoy, there is another side to the champion jockey not universally recognised.
While he may be thoroughly dedicated to his profession, McCoy never forgets those jump jockeys who have suffered injuries which curtail their careers and means of earning a living. When riding two winners on the last day of the 2013 Cheltenham festival, celebrations were maintained at a minimum as news filtered through of the serious condition of J.T. McNamara from a previous day fall. McNamara is making a slow painful recovery but McCoy and the rest of the weighing room are a tight knit community in which concern for their fellow riders outweighs other matters.
Indeed, McCoy is now vice-patron of the Injured Jockeys Fund, the brainchild of the late Lord John Oaksey, which provides financial and physical assistance to jockeys and their relatives. His regular help in fundraising activities is that part of the Irishman which rarely attracts the headlines in the national press.
Besides being a devoted family man, Tony McCoy always shows a willingness to be interviewed and has been a great credit to a sport which he has dominated for such a long period.
Despite his sparse daily diet and with a body approaching 40 years old, many pundits still expect him to continue in the search for more winners. It is probable that nobody would bet against him eventually surpassing the 5,000 barrier.