Health risks of horse racing helped me decide to call time on record-breaking career, says McCoy

Frank Dalleres
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CHAMPION Jockey AP McCoy has admitted that the dangers of horse racing contributed to his decision to retire, ending two decades of dominance over fences.

McCoy bid racing farewell on Saturday at Sandown, where he was confirmed as the leading jump jockey for a 20th successive year despite not winning either of two rides on his final appearance.

He conceded yesterday that he would miss the sport, but said the serious injuries suffered by JT McNamara and Robbie McNamara, as well as the 1996 death of Richard Davis, were reminders of its inherent danger.

McCoy, who broke 13 bones and chipped 14 teeth in pursuit of glory, said: “There are a lot of things I’ll miss but there are some that I won’t, like spending a lot of time in a hospital and ringing Dr Pritchard begging for help to make me better.

“My wife Chanelle wanted me to retire but at the same time I knew myself it was the right time for my family. My mum and dad are in their 70s now and don’t enjoy watching me as much any more because of the dangers involved, so it certainly makes their life easier.

“I never thought of the dangers and when I got injured I felt I was unlucky and it wouldn’t happen again, but I know the dangers and they first became apparent to me when Richard Davis died, and just lately you only need to see what happened to John Thomas and Robbie McNamara.”

McCoy, 40, was afforded a guard of honour by fellow jockeys at Sandown, where a sell-out crowd of 18,000 racegoers watched him finish third on both Mr Mole and Box Office.

JT McNamara was left paralysed by a fall at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, while his cousin Robbie needed spinal surgery after suffering serious injuries at Wexford earlier this month.