Racegoers and punters get what could be their last chance to see champion jockey Tony ‘AP’ McCoy in action at Southwell this Sunday.
McCoy stunned racing earlier this month by announcing that he is to retire from the saddle at the end of this season.
But he is booked for four rides at Southwell’s attractive jumps card on Sunday. And with only three minor National Hunt meetings at the Nottinghamshire track to follow in March, it might be his farewell appearance.
“We are delighted to welcome AP to Southwell for what could be the last time,” enthused the course’s general manager, Mark Clayton.
“He has ridden numerous winners here, like all jumps courses. But I think our most abiding memory of his visits to Southwell came in January 2002 when he remounted hot favourite, Family Business, to win after all the other runners failed to finish.”
McCoy (40) has ridden more than 4.300 winners in an astonishing career that has seen him crowned champion jockey 19 consecutive times and every year he has contested the title -- since 1996. He has won almost all the big races at the Cheltenham Festival, and was named BBC TV Sports Personality Of The Year in 2010 after landing the Grand National on Don’t Push It.
His record at Southwell is superb. Over the past five seasons, he has steered home 43 winners at a strike rate of 30%. And he has a good chance of improving on those statistics at Sunday’s meeting, which looks sure to attract a bumper crowd.
In the opening race at 2.00, a novices’ handicap chase, McCoy rides Paddy Mulligan for in-form trainer John Ferguson.
Two more rides for Ferguson follow -- aboard Zip Top in the novices’ hurdle at 3.00 and Amirr in the bumper flat race that concludes the seven-race card at 5.00.
Arguably the most celebrated jockey in the history of racing, AP will also partner Spookydooky for trainer Jonjo O’Neill and Mr Lando for Gordon Elliott in handicap hurdles at 3.30 and 4.30 respectively.