National Hunt riding great Tony McCoy became the first jockey to reach the 3,000 winners mark when he won on Restless D’Artaix at Plumpton on Monday.
The 34-year-old Ulsterman — 13 times the champion jockey — had two misses earlier in the afternoon but made no mistake with Hello Moscow and then reached the landmark with Restless D’Artaix.
“It’s great, a relief I guess,” said McCoy, who had been marooned on 2,998 winners for 11 days.
“It’s not something I’m going to play down — I am ecstatic. All 3,000 winners have taken a lot of hard work. It’s very easy to be driven when you are lucky enough to do a job you love. I am lucky to have been supported by a number of great people over the years,” said McCoy, who is missing just the Grand National from a list of major wins.
McCoy later told BBC Sport that he had never imagined he would reach such a mark.
“When I started off I never thought for one moment I would get to that number of winners,” the understated rider said.
The sensational achievement sparked joyous scenes amongst McCoy, his team and supporters in the paddock as Nicky Henderson’s 13-8 favorite made her way back.
Henderson paid a handsome tribute to McCoy.
“He starved himself to ride the filly that fell [Miss Sarenne] and he was genuinely gutted about that,” Henderson said. “He’s ridden two finishes and I think he was the only person that would have won on either of them.”
“The one that looked an easy winner goes and tips up. After that it was fair justice that we got it over with today,” he said. “What sets him apart from the rest is advertised today. It couldn’t be wetter, it couldn’t be colder, he’s starving to bits, but he can go and ride finishes like that … You’ll never see numbers like this again.”
McCoy — who enjoyed a stunning partnership with Martin Pipe and is now stable jockey for Jonjo O’Neill — had already become the all-time most successful jumps jockey in Britain on Aug. 27, 2002, beating Richard Dunwoody’s record of 1,699.
He also eclipsed flat jockey Sir Gordon Richards’ record total of 269 winners in a season — when there were fewer race meetings and jockeys didn’t have the luxury of traveling between racecourses by helicopter or private plane — on Valfonic at Warwick on April 2, 2002. To McCoy — who has suffered serious injuries down the years including an almost career ending back injury last year — that ranks as his finest achievement.
“That was a record which had stood for 55 years and was set by someone who was 24 times champion flat jockey,” he said. “Sir Gordon Richards is the only jockey ever to be knighted and to beat his record was my proudest achievement.”
Born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1974, McCoy began his career on the Flat and landed his first winner, Legal Steps, at Thurles in March 1992.