Bruised McCoy is feeling champion... for a record 18th time

By Jonathan Powell


The scars of battle were only partly hidden yesterday as iron man A.P. McCoy was crowned champion jockey for the 18th successive time at Sandown.

The 39-year-old Irishman was looking undeniably pale and drawn after an uncomfortable week in hospital in severe pain following a gravedigger of a fall at Cheltenham that would have finished most sportsmen.

Silver service: McCoy and daughter, Eve, with his trophy

Silver service: McCoy and daughter, Eve, with his trophy

Extensive damage to his ribs and sternum will keep him on the sidelines for a few more weeks, but there was no denying his appetite for the challenges ahead as he spoke of his determination to reach the landmark figure of 4,000 winners as fast as possible.

'That's the target which has been on my mind pretty much since I reached the total of 3,000 - and I need another 125 wins to get there. I also want to be champion again,' he confirmed.

'My first priority, though, was to get out of hospital as quickly as possible.'

McCoy's heart beats to a different drum from his rivals.

Though he was clearly suffering badly when he arrived at hospital in Gloucester 10 days ago in an ambulance accompanied by Lisa Hancock, chief executive of the Injured Jockeys Fund, he still summoned his driver and asked to be driven home.

At that stage, the X-rays had detected a single broken rib. With the car waiting in the hospital car park, McCoy might have had his way, too, but for the intervention of his friends Ruby Walsh and Dominic Elsworth at his bedside.

McCoy's wife, Chanelle, who is expecting their second child this summer, was also firmly against him being discharged that night.

Just as well. Further X-rays and tests over the next 24 hours revealed that his injuries were much more severe than first thought.

Yesterday, as usual, McCoy was playing down the significance of his spell in hospital.

'It was precautionary more than anything else,' he said. 'Falls are part of the job and, at my age, I should be getting used to them.

'My doctor suggested my best way of getting back quickly was to remain in hospital. But I'm improving rapidly now.'


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