Winner: My Racing Life by A P McCoy

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Winner: My Racing Life by A P McCoy

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Category: Autobiography
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Peter Magee
Reviewed by Peter Magee
Summary: The autobiography of the jockey whose records may never be beaten. It's insightful and a good read. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: November 2015
Publisher: Orion
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1409162391

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In any walk of life there are people who are universally known by their first names alone. In flat racing, everyone knows who 'Frankie' is and in National Hunt you need say no more than 'A.P.' Legend is an over-used word but not when it comes to the achievements of Tony 'A.P.' McCoy. He's been champion jockey an unprecedented twenty times and his career record of 4,348 wins may never be beaten. In fact, it's tempting to say that it will never be beaten. He's won the Grand National, the Irish Grand National, two Cheltenham Gold Cups and won the Champion Hurdle three times. Unusually for a jockey he's also been BBC Sports Personality of the Year. He achieved all this by the age of forty one when he retired from racing.

I've been a follower of racing for most of my life and an autobiography from a major player in the sport produces mixed emotions. There's the pleasure of reading about the sport from the inside and getting an insight into the name behind the book. There's also the dread that what you're paying for could be little more than a rehash of what you've read in the papers. So, where did Winner: My Racing Life sit?

Well, it's a frank and full account of A.P. the man from the time when he was apprenticed to Jim Bolger who memorably told him after McCoy had been thrown from a horse, breaking his tibia and fibia and was facing months of recuperation you know your trouble, McCoy? You're too soft. After you've read of the many injuries that he suffered during the course of his career the last thing you'd accuse him of is being soft. As every National Hunt enthusiast will know injuries and fatalities to the horses are unfortunately commonplace, (I found some of the reporting of this hard reading, but then I'm a softy about animals) but A.P. clearly had love and affection for the horses he rode and the deaths, in particular, hit him hard.

McCoy frankly admits that to him winning was everything. He was determined to beat records even if that meant that serious injuries he incurred along the way were pushed into the background. At one stage his collarbone was in a bad way, but he didn't want to go to hospital for an x-ray just two weeks before the Cheltenham Festival, so the obvious solution was to be x-rayed on Martin Pipe's kitchen floor - by the vet. It says everything about the man that notwithstanding the broken collarbone he still managed to ride another winner at Exeter races the same day.

A.P. came across as a rounded, albeit driven individual. His success didn't prevent him from enjoying the respect of his peers and the camaraderie of the weighing room clearly comes across.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag. It was a pleasure to find that it was decidedly more than could have been read in the Racing Post.

McCoy is a multitalented man. He's made a promising debut as an author. For more racing autobiographies/biographies, we've also enjoyed My Animals and Other Family by Clare Balding and The Masters of Manton: From Alec Taylor to George Todd by Paul Mathieu.

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