TONY McCOY is to become Sir Anthony McCoy OBE after being awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list in recognition of his services to horseracing.
McCoy, who re-wrote the record books during an extraordinary 23-year career in the saddle, on Wednesday spoke of his knighthood as being “the greatest honour that can be bestowed upon you.”
McCoy, only the second jockey in history to have been awarded a knighthood after Sir Gordon Richards in 1953, said: “This is the pinnacle in terms of awards. It’s a great honour for me, and for my family. Mum and Dad are very proud.
“It is also great for the sport, and great for jockeys. I know quite a lot about Sir Gordon Richards – I did get a bit obsessed with him for a period of time during my career – and it just goes to show what jockeys can achieve.”
McCoy, 41, retired at the end of the last jumps season in April with a career tally of 4,348 jumps winners, comprising 4,204 in Britain and 144 in Ireland.
He also won ten races on the Flat, including the ‘Leger Legends’ race aboard Gannicus at Doncaster in September – his farewell in the saddle and for which he came out of retirement temporarily as a favour to charity fundraiser extraordinaire Jack Berry – resulting in a final overall total of 4,358.
His first winner was aboard Legal Steps on the Flat at Thurles in 1992, and his first triumph over jumps was recorded on Riszard at Gowran Park two years later.
During a career of relentless, phenomenally high achievement, McCoy amassed 31 Cheltenham Festival winners, including two Gold Cups via Mr Mulligan (1997) and Synchronised (2012), and three Champion Hurdles, courtesy of Make A Stand (1997), Brave Inca (2006) and Binocular (2010).
He also memorably landed the world’s most famous race, the Grand National, aboard Don’t Push It for his boss JP McManus and trainer Jonjo O’Neill at Aintree in 2010 after 14 previous attempts had ended in disappointment.
McCoy was crowned champion jockey for 20 consecutive seasons – in every season after he became a fully fledged professional in 1995-96. This easily eclipsed the old record of eight titles (including one shared) by Peter Scudamore between 1981-82 and 1991-92.
Perhaps most renowned for his partnership with trainer Martin Pipe, he enjoyed his most prolific campaign in 2001-02, when his total of 289 winners in a British season beat Richards’ record of 269 on the Flat, set in 1947, and meant he finished an astonishing 157 winners clear of perennial runner-up Richard Johnson.
The trophy for champion jockey was decommissioned and awarded to McCoy permanently on his retirement on bet365 Gold Cup day at Sandown.
McCoy secured another piece of history in 2010 when he became the first jockey to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and he also recently received a Lifetime Achievement award at the Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in Belfast.
McCoy joins an elite band from racing who have been awarded a knighthood, comprising Richards, Sir Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, Sir Noel Murless, Sir Peter O’Sullevan and Sir Henry Cecil.
Sir Michael Stoute was also knighted in 1998, but he received the honour in recognition of his services to tourism in his native Barbados, rather than for racing. Sir Mark Prescott is a hereditary baronet.
McCoy was appointed MBE in the 2003 Queen’s Birthday Honours and OBE in the 2010 Birthday Honours list for his services to racing.