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  Sunday, 8 December, 2002, 22:45 GMT
McCoy misses out

It must be hard being Tony McCoy - just imagine his CV:

McCoy is out plying his trade in all weathers
Mud, sweat and tears in 2002 for McCoy

  • Job title: Champion jump jockey.

  • Ambitions: To win every major race and remain champion until he retires.

  • Strengths: Strong, fit, talented, relentless will to win.

  • Weaknesses: Bad loser.

    Well, it's not so much that McCoy is a bad loser, he just cannot stand losing.

    And so finishing third in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award could be viewed as something of a disappointment.

    But even McCoy appears to realise this is one race he was never destined to win.

    For despite severe sacrifices, a catalogue of achievements and an admirable attitude, the Ulsterman is simply in the wrong sport for mass recognition.

    Why would punters salute a jockey, when there are glamorous footballers and impressive athletes as alternatives?

    After all, the legendary Lester Piggott never won the big BBC honour, a source of some relief perhaps when he was jailed for tax evasion.

    And Frankie Dettori was among the also-rans in 1996, despite his Magnificent Seven winners which fleeced the bookies and delighted punters.

    The simple fact is a horse almost stands as much chance of being honoured as a jockey.

    Step forward Red Rum, who was once brought into a Television Centre studio for the Sports Review show.

    There can be no doubting that McCoy, who is based in the racing heartland of Lambourn, Berkshire, has enjoyed a spectacular 2002 which will long be remembered.

    He broke a record which many thought could never be bettered - the number of winners in a season, 269, set by Sir Gordon Richards on the Flat some 45 years earlier.

    Teetotal McCoy after yet another record
    McCoy celebrates - but doesn't drink alcohol

    McCoy has gone on to become statistically the most successful jump jockey of all time, by passing Richard Dunwoody's mark for the greatest career winners.

    And all at great personal cost to the rider, whose natural weight is closer to 12 stone than the 10 stone he sometimes wastes to.

    He lives a teetotal regime, where a cup of tea with seven sugars might replace lunch, and steaming midnight baths help shed the load.

    Like sport's other great dominant individuals, Tiger Woods and Michael Schumacher, winning is everything for McCoy.

    The man known popularly by his initials of AP, for Anthony Peter, was devastated when his mount Valiramix died after stumbling in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

      What they say
    McCoy is the ultimate
    Trainer Martin Pipe
    A one-off...genius
    Flat jockey Frankie Dettori
    He is my personal hero
    Commentator John Motson

    He threw his helmet to the ground, and then rushed to catch the stricken horse, who later had to be put down.

    McCoy's mood was dark after the death of a potential star.

    But perhaps it was not the horse's fate alone which clouded his outlook, rather the loss of a potential big winner.

    'The Champ', as friends and rivals acknowledge him, will not rest until his career has been graced by victories in all the major races.

    And while the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup have previously been secured, his record has gaps.

    Crucially, he has never won the most-watched race of all - the Grand National.

    Victory at Aintree in April 2003 would see McCoy touted again as a Sports Personality of the Year contender.

    Just don't bet on him winning.

  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    Tony McCoy's mum Claire
    "I wanted him to be a priest, but no chance"
    In-depth section on the big BBC awards

    Radcliffe triumphs

    Awards

    Winners in profile

    Have Your Say

    Reviews
    See also:

    27 Aug 02 | Horse Racing
    14 Nov 02 | Horse Racing
    28 Aug 02 | Horse Racing
    Links to more Sports Personality 2002 stories are at the foot of the page.


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