Horse Racing

Alex Ferguson leads the tributes to retiring AP McCoy

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Their fierce passion for winning isn't the only trait that connects Sir Alex Ferguson and AP McCoy. Both share an incredible love for horses and with the news at the weekend at McCoy will be retiring at the end of the season Ferguson has been quick to heap praise upon the 19-time champion jockey.

The former Manchester United manager said the accomplishments of the Northern Irishman throughout his 23-year career "will be forged on our memory as long as we can all remember” in an interview with the Yorkshire Post.

Sir Alex won an unprecedented 38 trophies in his 26-year tenure at the club and like McCoy he was determined to go out of his own accord, at the peak of his powers. It's an idea that Ferguson has praised the jockey for employing.

"I am pleased that Tony has picked his moment to decide when it is right for him to retire," he said.

“Only people who have had to live with great expectations can understand why they should go out at the top. That expectation is indescribable, losing was never an option for Tony. Only winning mattered."

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Business as usual

Ever since McCoy announced his decision on Saturday afternoon after riding his 200th winner of the season at Newbury it's been business as usual. He claimed a handicap hurdle and the coveted Hennessey Gold Cup at Leopardstown on board Carlingford Lough on Sunday, a Grade 1 race he had never previously won.

It is now likely that Carlingford Lough will head to the Cheltenham Festival next month to help the 40-year-old try and win the Gold Cup for the third time. McCoy then recorded his 4,325 winner of his career at the more humble surroundings of Catterick on Monday.

This is yet another trait McCoy shares with Ferguson. The venue, the occasion, the crowd and the prize on offer are all irrelevant. They both share that burning desire to win. Treating every game and every race exactly the same.

Going out at the top

If it's a maiden hurdle at Thirsk or an FA Cup game against Burton Albion, the pair have to claim victory. It's what kept them at the upper echelons of their professions for such a sustained period of time.

Ferguson added: "Only people who have had to live with great expectations can understand why they should go out at the top. Only true champions understand the value of humility and that is what stands out in the character of Tony McCoy. That expectation is indescribable, losing was never an option for Tony. Only winning mattered."

And it's the only thing that mattered to Ferguson.

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