Jockey Tony McCoy celebrates 4,000th career win
Tony McCoy celebrated his 4,000th career win on Thursday, cementing his status as Britain's most successful jumps jockey.
Britain's undisputed champion jockey for 18 years, McCoy earned his latest milestone win with his second ride of the day, guiding 6-4 favorite Mountain Tunes to glory at the central England circuit of Towcester.
"There is a sense of relief, no doubt, but for the first time in my life I feel a sense of pride of what I've achieved," McCoy said. "This is the quickest sport in the world to bring you back down, but I do feel happy and proud of what I've done."
The four-year-old Mountain Tunes closed in on the leaders only down the back straight. After jumping the final obstacle, there was a thrilling tussle up the hill with Kris Spin before winning by half a length to cheers from the thousands in the grandstands where admission was free.
Owner J.P. McManus immediately offered to buy a drink for everyone at Towcester to toast the 39-year-old McCoy's landmark.
"A few have gone home but there is still about 4,000 here so it should be some bill," Towcester chief executive Kevin Ackerman said.
McCoy headed straight to the town of Marlborough in southwest England where he owns a pub to celebrate with his family.
"We've been following Tony around this week, so (5-year-old daughter) Eve has had to have this week off school," the Northern Irishman's wife, Chanelle, said. "There will be a party at the Outside Chance pub ... we've been trying to book a DJ but it was difficult, not knowing what night to book."
Since his first success in March 1992, McCoy has produced more wins than any other National Hunt jockey in history.
Tributes to McCoy were led by Richard Johnson, only other active rider to have ridden more than 2,500 jumps winners.
"He doesn't relent at all," Johnson said. "He's as keen now as he was when he first came over from Ireland. What he has achieved in the last 15 to 20 years is incredible.
"He has changed riding, especially in the National Hunt field, and moved it forward. It's been a pleasure to ride with him and you'd struggle to find a nicer person to work with, either, on a day-to-day basis. He's as hungry as he's ever been."
The next target for McCoy -- who is known widely by his initials A.P. -- is surpassing Martin Pipe's record 4,182 wins, of which 3,929 were over jumps.
"AP is just absolutely phenomenal," said Pipe, a 15-time champion jumps trainer. "Always Perfect."
Frankie Dettori, a 3-time champion jockey on the flat, hailed McCoy as the "leading rider of a generation."
"His will to win is unsurpassed and his spirit is unquenchable," Dettori said. "What is more amazing is that he has time for everyone and is a genuinely good guy."
The extent of McCoy's achievement was celebrated across the sports world on Thursday, particularly from Arsenal, the Premier League club he supports.
"He has been at the top of his sport for a very long time -- as long as I have been manager of Arsenal Football Club -- and that shows fantastic consistency," Arsene Wenger said. "He has come through a lot of injuries, and has shown great resilience to get to where he is."
And there could be a lot more to come from McCoy: British bookmaker Coral is offering odds of 6-1 that McCoy goes on to ride another 1,000 winners.
"I've ridden 4,000 winners. I'll try to ride a few more," he said. "I'm really proud of what I've achieved and being able to last, one way or another. I'm lucky."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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