McCoy bows out having been crowned the leading rider for the last 20 seasons, with the trophy awarded for one final time before his ride in the Celebration Chase earlier in the afternoon. A total of 4,357 career winners have been banked since he first struck gold with Legal Steps at Thurles in March 1992, with Capard King giving him a final triumph at Ayr on April 17. He has set reams of records during that time, most notably posting an incredible 289 winners in the 2001-2 season, surpassing Sir Gordon Richards’ long-standing record of 269 victories. McCoy said: “I’ve been very lucky and very blessed to have the life I’ve had. What I’d say to the young lads in the weighing room is to enjoy every minute of it. I’m a little embarrassed by everything’s that’s gone on and I feel very privileged. I wish it could go on a little longer. “I’m sure someone will beat them (his record-breaking achievements) but I hope it’s not any time soon.” McCoy has yet to announce what he will do next, but admits his next challenge will be transitioning to life outside of the weighing room. He said: “The biggest regret is that I don’t have any qualifications. Training is not an option and I don’t do comebacks. I have been in racing so long it will take a little while to get out of that regime and start to eat like a normal person. “From my own personal point of view, announcing it when I did was the best thing for me.” McCoy is a renowned Arsenal fan and hopes to make a few more trips to the Emirates Stadium now he is no longer required on track every weekend. He said: “The last time I had an Arsenal season ticket I only went to about two games. I seem to go more often when I don’t have one. The club have been very good to me in getting me tickets sorted when I want one.” Referring to Box Office’s third place, O’Neill joked: “The way he rode that, he’ll never ride for me again! “He’s the greatest man in the game. He’s good to work with, a true professional. What I can say does not justify how great he is. We will not see the like of him again.” Winning rider Richard Johnson has continually finished runner-up in the title race to McCoy and paid an emotional tribute to his long-time rival and friend. He said: “It’s a sad day. He’s been one of my best friends for a long time. It’s great to ride a winner but it’s an amazing day for him, he’s the one we should look at today. “He’s been a great friend and to work with, I couldn’t sit next to a better fellow. Twenty years of good memories and we will still be friends for a long time.” McCoy also finished third on his penultimate ride aboard Mr Mole in the bet365 AP McCoy Celebration Chase. He raced prominently on the Paul Nicholls-trained runner but the writing was on the wall as he began to push along at the third-last fence as eventual winner Special Tiara kicked for home. While Mr Mole kept on at the one pace, McCoy could not reel back the 3-1 favourite, who ran out a six-length victor. McCoy was given a thunderous reception upon his return from the track with Mr Mole, and said: “This is all way beyond my expectations. I’ve had a great way of life for the last 25 years, and working with great people has made it that much more enjoyable.” The crowds cheered McCoy from the moment he entered the paddock to mount the 5-2 favourite, applauding him past the stands on the way to the start of the two-and-a-half-mile heat. Another shout of approval heralded the start, with McCoy settling Box Office towards the rear in the early stages before he started to manoeuvre across the track as the race began in earnest. However, despite travelling well three flights from home, the Jonjo O’Neill-trained runner found little under pressure and had to settle for a place behind Brother Tedd (9-1). Press Association Tony McCoy had to settle for third aboard Box Office on the final ride of his career in the bet365 Handicap Hurdle at Sandown. A tearful McCoy said: “It’s amazing. I’ve been so lucky all my life. I’ll never forget this day.” He was mobbed by fervent racegoers upon his return from the track, where he was given a hero’s welcome. “It’s been a very emotional day and thanks to everyone for coming,” he said. “It’s fantastic, it’s very special. I would like to thank all the racing public for coming here. It’s a day I’ll never forget.” McCoy admitted he had endured a sleepless night ahead of his final hurrah. He said: “I have kind of been getting used to it over the last couple of weeks and that is the reason I haven’t ridden much over the last couple of weeks – to get me used to retirement. “Last night was probably the only time in 40 years that I have not slept and I am a very good sleeper.” The 40-year-old’s departure marks the end of his long domination of the National Hunt sphere, which yielded 31 Cheltenham Festival winners as well as two Gold Cups and one famous Grand National success.
Free scoring Man Utd earn third straight win under SolskjaerManchester City survived a brief scare to beat Southampton and reduce league leaders Liverpool’s advantage to seven points.Southampton responded to David Silva’s early opener when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg took the ball off Oleksandr Zinchenko and fired it into the top corner.City had luck on their side when Raheem Sterling’s shot deflected off James Ward-Prowse to make it 2-1. Sergio Aguero’s back-post header completed the scoring before half-time.Southampton goalscorer Hojbjerg – who had only just returned from suspension – was shown a straight red card for a lunging tackle on Fernandinho with just over five minutes to go.City had a number of decent chances as Silva, Aguero and Riyad Mahrez all went close in the first half and Aguero smacked the crossbar after the break.Southampton threatened too and Charlie Austin was twice denied by City keeper Ederson in the first half before Hojbjerg’s equaliser.But the Saints were ultimately undone by Pep Guardiola’s free-flowing side, who move up to second place in the table.Liverpool went 10 points clear of City at the top of the table with a devastating 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal on Saturday, meaning the defending champions needed victory to keep pace in the title race.City appeared to feel the pressure on Boxing Day when they squandered an early lead and allowed Leicester to win 2-1 at the King Power Stadium.But they stood up to the challenge at St Mary’s – peppering Southampton’s goal from the off and responding to the equaliser with two quick goals on the stroke of half-time.City’s opening goal was straight from Guardiola’s textbook: Bernardo Silva’s neat build-up down the right and cut-back into the centre was comfortably put away by an unmarked David Silva.Sterling’s shot was then deflected by Ward-Prowse and flapped into the net by Alex McCarthy to make it 2-1 before Aguero headed in Zinchenko’s cross at the back post with ease.It means City can cut Liverpool’s lead to four points when the two teams meet at the Etihad Stadium on 3 January.Elsewhere, Manchester’s United’s transformed attack once again combined devastatingly to give caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his third successive win with an impressive victory over Bournemouth.A first half of cavalier attacking football saw United score three times, with Paul Pogba netting his second double in successive games and Marcus Rashford grabbing the other.They are now only three points behind fifth-placed Arsenal, having trailed by eight following the morale-sapping 3-1 defeat at Liverpool earlier this month.Pogba poked in his first after Rashford had mesmerised both Nathan Ake and Diego Rico on the right, before the French World Cup winner headed in from Ander Herrera’s precise delivery.It was 3-0 when Anthony Martial, back in the XI after recovering from a bug, provided a wonderful cross for Rashford to slide his shot past Asmir Begovic.Bournemouth, who had looked dangerous on set-pieces, pulled a goal back in first-half stoppage time when Ake headed in following good work by David Brooks.Substitute Romelu Lukaku scored United’s fourth from Pogba’s pass two minutes after coming on, before defender Eric Bailly was shown a straight red card for scything down Cherries midfielder Ryan Fraser.United have now found the net 12 times in the three matches since Solskjaer took over. This victory means the the 45-year-old has emulated Sir Matt Busby and Jose Mourinho by winning his first three league games in charge.Solskjaer will be looking to make it a fourth at Newcastle on Wednesday, while Bournemouth remain 12th in the table.Also yesterday, Chelsea increased the gap between themselves and fifth-placed Arsenal to five points as N’Golo Kante’s second-half strike earned them victory at Crystal Palace.Kante scored the only goal of the game in the 51st minute when he broke forward from midfield to convert David Luiz’s through ball.There were few clear-cut chances as the Blues dominated possession and Palace sat back hoping to catch the opposition on the counter-attack – a tactic which failed to work as Roy Hodgson’s Eagles took 85 minutes to register their first effort. That is now two successive games without a goal.Chelsea’s Willian came close to scoring with a free-kick that struck the post, and Ross Barkley also hit the woodwork with a hooked effort.Fourth-placed Blues now have 43 points, one behind City and two behind Spurs. Palace remain in 14th with 19 points.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram