Sports Personality of the Year crown fits AP McCoy very well

THE achievements of jump racing’s greatest jockey, AP McCoy, were rewarded this week when he received the accolade of BBC Sports Personality of the Year in front of an audience of stars that spanned the sporting world.

The regard in which AP is held by the general public and his contemporaries was given substance by the bestowal of this historic and most sought after prize, writes Jason Hall.

Unbelievably he has been the Champion jumps rider for the last 15 years in the 16 years since he came to take his place as a professional rider in England from his home in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. More on AP later in the column.

Limited space did not allow me to mention the success of Mafeking at Lingfield in last week’s column.

Trained at Lewes by Mark Hoad, the admirably consistent seven furlong stroke miler took yet another decent handicap to add to his record of victories.

Anna Newton-Smith has had her Jevington string in good form through the early part of the season and continued that form when Pete The Feat won at Folkestone 10 days ago.

He was making his chasing debut and despite his stamina appearing to give out on the run in held on to follow up his win over hurdles on his previous start.

However, it was a mixed day for Anna who saw her Twin Bud brought down at the first hurdle by Goring One – her other runner in the novice contest!

Boxing Day features the King George VI Chase at Kempton and although it will certainly be a close call for the meeting to take place, if it does beat the odds it would be great to see Kauto Star make history with a fifth win in the race.

Lewes trainer Jim Best has three entered in the novice hurdle on the card and Golan Way has an entry for Falmer handler Sheena West in the Grade One Feltham Novice Chase.

Jim’s chosen runner should go well and Sheena has high hopes for Golan Way on a track, at a trip that appear ideal. Ground conditions may be a concern.

Back to Anthony Peter McCoy.

AP has ridden more winners in a season than any other jockey in the history of racing, been the quickest to record 1,000 winners and became the first ever jockey to ride 3,000 winners when he coaxed Restless D’Artais to victory at Plumpton racecourse.

2010 is a year AP will never forget with this award coming on the back of receiving an OBE on the Queen’s birthday honours list and completing his full hand of winners in the most prestigious jumps races when winning the Grand National for the first time.

It is his victory in the National which sealed the BBC award as (despite what some members of the racing press would have you believe) the race is still the flagship of British racing as a whole and the event, which attracts the highest number of new, young enthusiasts as well as drawing the attention of hundreds of thousands who like to just occasionally taste the pleasures of the sporting world (and, for many, their only ‘flutter’ of the year), of which racing is such a significant part.

His fabulous record of racing achievements are complimented by a personality and demeanour that have ensured AP has remained a popular character within every section of the racing community when many may have been tainted by the magnitude of such outstanding success.

This combination of virtues have now been justifiably recognised in a week that has emphasised AP’s position as a great ambassador for racing and provided an opportunity that racing can use to expand the popularity of the sport as a whole in the weeks and months ahead.