on 22 August 2012
A P McCoy may have mellowed a little in recent seasons but this book tells us just what drove him on, year after year, injury after injury, to become the best ever jumps jockey in history. From riding his first ever winner - Legal Steps a 20/1 outside in a 12 furlong Thurles maiden in March 1992 - all A P ever wanted was to ride another and another and another. And he has done! He has broken every record there was to break for a rider and has very likely set the bar so high that his records will never be broken. And not without sacrifice. McCoy is teetotal and a non-smoker who sticks to a meagre diet in his pursuit of winners and openly dreads the day when he will have to retire. Which, he says, will be the moment he realises that he will no longer be known as 'Champ'. But to those of us who have benefitted financially from his riding skills, or who have just stood and watched in admiration as he cajoled one last effort from his mount to get up on the line, he will always be the 'Champ'.
With 18x champion jump jockey Anthony Peter McCoy having recently recorded his 4000th winner under rules, there will possibly be renewed interest in his life story. As with now-retired jockey turned TV pundit Mick Fitzgerald, co-author Donn McClean has done a fine job in helping A.P. to tell his story. What a story too!
One of the best features of the book is the breathtaking honesty with which A.P. relates it - and how he views himself with a critical and insightful eye.
A.P's father Peadar was involved with horses - he bred a Cheltenham winner, there were ponies at home and school was just a distraction that kept him from horses. Though A.P. admits he is not a natural horseman, and whilst extremely skilful, he is generous in his praise of those who helped him to reach the heights and improve, particularly the late Northern Irish trainer Billy Rock, who gave him his first experience of riding work on racehorses. At just 15, A.P. was apprenticed to the major Irish trainer Jim Bolger. As a Flat apprentice jockey, he wasn't an overnight success, and the first of his many broken bones from racehorses was a smashed leg sustained at Bolger's in January 1993. The weight gained during his time off was difficult to lose.
Things changed for Anthony - he prefers that to 'Tony'- on moving to England. Apprenticed to Toby Balding (broadcaster Clare's uncle), he quickly established himself, and racked up winners. Dave Roberts became his agent, and his first professional championship was in 95/96. The rest is history.
His wife Chantelle and children (A.P & Chantelle have a daughter, Eve, their son Archie was born after this book was written) have shared some of the spotlight at triumphal moments. the early years of their relationship were marked out by A.P.'s single-mindedness - selfishness even - and Chantelle's incredible patience in keeping faith with him. A.P. was already a champion at this point, and this same driven, completely focused attitude didn't always endear A.P to the racing public at large - obsessiveness is rarely a becoming trait. Full marks to A.P. for revealing all this, you are left in no doubt as to just how insufferable he was at times.
The book is also packed with insights into the racing world. The incredible success in the early 90s of racing trainer Martin Pipe, a champion trainer whilst A.P. rode for him, is simply explained in four words: Pipe's horses were fitter.
The resentment of this success by some led to Martin Pipe being seen in a similar light to A.P., but in this book he comes across as a kindly, compassionate man who always put the welfare of the horses first.
The book recounts A.P.'s many successes, but like Mick Fitzgerald before him,he rarely, if ever, watches those again on TV. It's the races that he loses that gets viewed again, spotting where maybe a tiny mistake was made.
The success that cemented A.P. as a true great in the public eye was perhaps his winning of the 2010 Grand National on Don't Push It for his 'boss', J.P. McManus and trainer Jonjo O'Neill, one of the many top-class jockeys who never won the race. His roar of joy, standing up in the saddle as he won, left the world in no doubt that this mattered so much. The book leads towards this happy conclusion.
Since then, A.P. has written more history - first jockey to win Sports Personality of the Year, first UK jump jockey to ride 4000 winners. To put that into perspective, nobody had ridden 1000 winners before 1971. Whilst this book was written well before this latest milestone, it's still a fascinating and very readable insight into the mind and life of a true sporting legend.
on 14 February 2012
This is the second biography of McCoy's I've read and this time he is far more candid and insightful about personal relationships and relationships with trainers as well as his obsession with beating records such as Sir Gordon Richards record for the most winners in a season. There is also far more detail than in his previous biography and now he has a daughter, Eve, and happy marriage he is perhaps more reflective - he knows his career is reaching its end. A fascinating insight into a driven man though I still prefer the laconic, laid back style of Ruby Walsh's bio (which I rate the best I've read by a jock) and also Timmy Murphy's bio. Still, McCoy is the No 1 jump jockey of all time and if you want to know why the answers are within this book.
on 13 June 2013
An honest and insightful view of AP's world and personality. He has the most amazing drive and motivation - you can see why he is champion jockey.
on 8 November 2012
A well written, highly readable story of a quite remarkable career which could go on for another season or two. He has rewritten the record books and it's unimaginable that we will ever see his like again.
on 31 October 2013
great read, very well written. very informative. great present for racing buff. would recommend for anyone. lots of info on champ.
on 30 November 2011
I confess that I intensely disliked AP McCoy for a long long time. He was far too driven for my liking, just counting winner, never seem to bother about the horses; his were the last-fence fallers etc. But the change in McCoy's attitude towards the game was there for all to see, so found myself warming up to him and even voting for him to be SPOTY. What a great night that was for him!
This autobiography, written with the help of Don Mclean, who did already help Mick Fitzgerald among others, starts just at the very night when McCoy was voted SPOTY, and they takes up McCoys life-story more or less chronological (as you would expect :))
Written in a far more relaxed style, with a hint of irony thrown in here and there, of course McCoy has more than one story to tell, and they all make a good read. His growing-up years with the help of early mentor Billy Rock, his appareniceship with no other than Jim Bolger, his switch to England, the pursue of his then-girlfriend - now wife- Chantelle, his relentless appetite for winners, his years with Martin Pipe, his McManus years - you name it, its dealt with in nice detail. McCoy relates some private details here as well, the ups and downs in his private life (in fact one does wonder how and WHY Chantelle, who initially didnt seem too interested, did change her mind and did stick it out with him!), the devasting blows some fatally injured horses gave him (Gloria Victis, Valiramix and Wichita Lineman are not forgotten, just to name some), his thoughts on Irish Racing - its all there. The wonder that is McCoys little daughter Eve gets lots af attention, McCoys love for here shining through every line. These emotions, good and sad, make this book far more worthwhile than the older autobiography, and a far far better read than the Carberry-one, for example.
In fact, it doesnt leave a lot to be desired, really. McCoy doesnt spare his critic where he thinks its due - Brave Incas owners might not like what he has to say about them; incl. some thoughts about the current whip argument. There are many nice photos in here as well, so get if for yourself, or as a nice christmas pressie. Its well worth it, and what better jockey to recall some fabulous National Hunt years with?
on 15 November 2011
Wonderful book, very honest and makes the Sport of Kings look excellent. His personal pofile was so extremely interesting, I have bought another copy for another jockey Love it!!!
on 25 June 2012
As a N.H. race fan, have over the years read quite a few autobiographies of jockeys , Mick Fitzgerald, Ruby were favourites, but this is really special. Its a real no warts book and McCoy's personality, not an easy man, comes through well. You can't knock the man, he has done all he set out to do and more, much more, but it was good to see the human side as well. Sometimes he finds himself hard to live with, so Chanelle must be a special person. Read it over two days, waking up early to continue. Recommend to anyone interested in racing, a great book.
on 1 March 2014
Absolutely fantastic read. I laughed and cried. McCoy is brutally honest and spares no one's blushes, especially his own. What a legend this man is, a true sporting great, and this is a compelling insight into the mindset of a champion. So good I didn't want it to finish. I just hope an updated version is released to honour his recent accomplishment of 4000 winners.