Tony McCoy produced the kind of swashbuckling ride for which he has become so famed as he secured his 4,000th winner over jumps at Towcester.
A huge crowd descended on the Northamptonshire circuit - which as always offered free admission - in the hope of seeing history being made and McCoy was in no mood to let his supporters down.
Having earlier suffered disappointment when 3-1 favourite Church Field could finish only fifth in the Agetur Handicap Hurdle, the 18-times champion again teamed up with trainer Jonjo O’Neill and owner JP McManus as 6-4 favourite Mountain Tunes kicked off his career under Rules in the Weatherbys Novices’ Hurdle.
Having travelled strongly for much of the two-mile-five-furlong journey, the Irish point-to-point winner appeared booked for minor honours as Panama Petrus and Kris Spin asserted from the home turn.
However, the 39-year-old rider had not given up on Mountain Tunes back in third and galvanised his mount to ensure he was in with a chance jumping the final obstacle.
Kris Spin held a narrow advantage on touching down, but McCoy threw everything at the market leader and with the packed grandstands roaring in anticipation, Mountain Tunes claimed victory by half a length.
McCoy had made no secret of his desire to secure his 4,000th winner in the green and gold silks of McManus, to whom he has held a retainer for the last nine years, and the delight on his face as he passed the post in front was clear.
McCoy said: “It was just amazing, it couldn’t have worked out any better. To do it for Jonjo and the McManus’s is brilliant as they’ve been so good to me. It was always hopefully going to be in JP’s colours.
“I’ve had the same agent, Dave Roberts, from day one and his dad sadly passed away yesterday so I’d like to dedicate this to him.
“To have Chanelle (wife), Eve and Archie (children) here is great and to do it in the McManus silks means a lot - Eve thinks they belong to me!
“I’m very lucky I work in a great sport. I get lots of support and work for great people. You only have to look at the amount of people who have come out today and supported me. I feel very humbled by it.
“I don’t feel I’m any different to anyone else. I hope everyone in the weighing room doesn’t think I am any different after today.
“I’ve ridden 4,000 winners. I’ll try to ride a few more. I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved and being able to last, one way or another. I’m lucky and proud to have done it.
“I live in the fear of not winning, but I wouldn’t be in this job if I didn’t enjoy what I do. You have to have goals. Otherwise you get a bit lazy. I’m one of those people who needs to chase something. I find it easier because I love what I do, but it keeps me working that bit harder.”
Of his winning ride, McCoy said: “To be honest I didn’t give Mountain Tunes a good ride. Jonjo told me he was a nice horse and to ride him like one and not be worried about everyone else watching.
“The horse was fantastic. You can’t win any horse race without their help and I’ve ridden some fantastic horses. There is a sense of relief, no doubt, but for the first time in my life I feel a sense of pride of what I’ve achieved.
“When I got out there (on the track) the thought never came into my head that someone was watching me. When I’m out there I’m on my own.
“It wasn’t until I got past the winning post today that I felt I was doing something different.”
McCoy was quick to speak of JT McNamara, the jockey who was left paralysed following a fall at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
He said: “Every season I want to be champion jockey, but as a jump jockey you have to take it day by day.
“The last two weekends I’ve spent at Southport with John Thomas McNamara after racing and that is the reality of this game.”
Asked about riding 5,000 winners, McCoy said: “Anything is possible.”
Family and friends celebrate AP
Tony McCoy’s 4000th National Hunt success at Towcester was watched by the champion jockey’s family and close friends.
Wife Chanelle, daughter Eve, son Archie and father Peadar were all in attendance and in celebratory mood after the JP McManus-owned Mountain Tunes got up under a typically power-packed McCoy ride to bring up the magical 4000 mark.
Chanelle McCoy said: “This is incredible. I didn’t think he was going to do it. It was nearly too good to be true as his dad is here, his brother is here and Mr McManus is here. It’s been a great day, Towcester’s hospitality has been amazing, the crowd here is phenomenal.”
“Our hearts were in our mouths, we’d given up - it was a typical AP ride, definitely.
“Tony’s been very laid-back about it (getting the 4,000). Daddy promised Eve an extra present when he got his 4,000th winner. We’ve been following Tony around this week, so Eve has had to have this week off school.
“There will be a party at the Outside Chance pub (in Marlborough) which Tony owns with Guy Sangster. We’ve been trying to book a DJ but it was difficult, not knowing what night to book.”
Peadar McCoy, a joiner by trade but who kept a few horses as a “hobby” when McCoy was growing up, said: “It’s a great day, I feel like crying. It couldn’t have gone better, the way he won it wasn’t easy but it was great.
“It looked like he was going to get beat but he pulled it out of the bag, him and the horse. He can still sleep as well as ever, nothing bothers him.”