Legendary jump jockey AP McCoy, who recently signed up as horse racing ambassador to sports hospitality agency Eventmasters, says he still believes he can get better – even at the age of 40.
He has set himself the target of notching an amazing 300 winners this season and says there is nothing like the magic of the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival, the “Olympics” of racing, held every March.
His comments came as he targeted the middle of next week for a return to the saddle, as he bids to be fit for the ride on More Of That in the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on November 29 – Hennessey Gold Cup day. He last rode on November 5, having been forced to miss most of the month recovering from an old rib injury that was aggravated in a fall at Exeter.
The Jonjo O’Neill-trained hurdler is unbeaten in five starts. “He looks a very smart horse,” McCoy added. “He’s a World Hurdle winner and one of the highest-rated jumpers in training. He is the reason I’ve ended up taking as long to come back as I have and I’ll hopefully now be okay for the rest of the season.”
McCoy has been Champion Jockey every year he has been professional. He claimed his first in 1995/6 and, as of 2013/2014, had won 19 consecutive titles. He has surpassed 150 winners for the season 18 times out of 20 riding in Britain.
He said: “My ambition is to keep improving and getting better, to keep learning, winning and being the best jockey I can be. I’d like to ride 300 winners this season – I haven’t done that before. That’s a record I’d like to set, and to become 20 times champion jockey.
“The aim is to keep healthy, to keep riding, to keep learning and to keep winning. And the rest takes care of itself.”
McCoy will represent and promote Eventmasters in particular by being guest of honour at the Cheltenham Festival where he will interact and engage with clients.
He said: “It’s a great festival, one of the biggest and best weeks of any jockey’s year and one I look forward to massively. The Gold Cup is always a huge honour to win.
“I’ve ridden 30 Cheltenham winners and just want to keep adding to that total. I’m 40 now, I haven’t got many Cheltenhams left, so I’m going to enjoy the few that I do have, whether it’s one, two, or three … whatever. It’s difficult to enjoy when you’re not winning, but I’ve learned that you don’t just automatically win, no matter how much you’ve won before. If you’re there at all, you’re very lucky.”
He went on: “Cheltenham is racing’s centre stage, the Festival being our annual Olympics, the most competitive Festival in the sport, the place we all want to win.
“Because it’s on the turn and undulating it makes it even more of a challenge than other tracks. The races are often run at high speeds with maximum fields which adds to the difficulty of getting a smooth and clear run round. You need a little bit more heart for the challenge of Cheltenham and a little bit more luck.”
Acknowledged as one of the sport’s greats, McCoy said he was looking forward to working with Eventmasters, one of the UK’s leading and longest serving corporate hospitality companies which next year celebrates its 30th anniversary. “I’m delighted to be associated with Eventmasters this season and look forward to meeting with their guests at Cheltenham. It’s a fantastic four days, the atmosphere is immense and I look forward to it every year. Who knows I may come up with a few good tips!”
Eventmasters managing director Denise Sheasby, a horse racing enthusiast and part owner of the popular 2010 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander, commented: “AP McCoy has broken just about every record there is and won just about every big race there is to win. Yet here he is talking ambition to improve and desire for even more winners.
“His determination to stay the best despite all he has achieved is just remarkable, befitting a true champion who has set standards which may never be surpassed.
“We are absolutely thrilled that he is working with our team.
“We support many race meetings up and down the country with an obvious emphasis on the Festival. We provide corporate hospitality for hundreds of guests, look to provide high quality service, and I am sure that with AP’s endorsement the business will further prosper. Those taking advantage of our hospitality packages will be able to chat racing with an undoubted master of the turf.”