20140404

The invincible AP McCoy - journalist McClean crafts a high-class story of a high-class jockey

It says much about the extraordinary ability that jump jockey AP McCoy brings to his trade that his decision to partner Double Seven in tomorrow's Grand National at Aintree saw the eight-year-old's price with the bookies come down so sharply it seemed he could even be the favourite by the time the horses go to post.

Trained in Ireland by Martin Brassil, who won the National at his first attempt with Numbersixvalverde in 2006, Double Seven could have been backed at 50-1 at the end of January. His odds had shrunk to 25-1 this time last week, but such was the run of money that poured in after 18-times champion jockey McCoy was confirmed as the rider there were some bookmakers offering as little as 12-1 by Thursday evening.

Since he rode his first winner at the age of 17 back in 1992, McCoy has come home in front more than 4,000 times, an unprecedented total.   He became champion National Hunt jockey in 1995-96 and has won the title every year since. With three weeks to go in this year's championship he is 60 winners clear of his nearest rival.

He has a great story to tell and tells it very well, with the help of the noted Irish racing journalist Donn McClean, in an autobiography updated to include his 2010 Grand National win on Don't Push It -- like Double Seven owned by J P McManus -- which broke his duck in the Aintree spectacular at the 15th attempt, and the tragic outcome of the 2012 race when Synchronised, on whom he had won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, parted company with McCoy at Becher's Brook with neither horse nor jockey hurt only to suffer fatal injuries in a subsequent fall after continuing in the race riderless.

Steve Dennis, in a review in the Racing Post, applauded the book because "it deals rewardingly with the man rather than with the career."

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"It helps, of course, that Donn McClean is a superlative writer," he continued. "This book reads as though it has been crafted for craft’s sake rather than dashed together in the face of a Christmas deadline.

"This is no deathless page-turner because we know what happens in the end (McCoy conquers the world, sorry for the spoiler) but the object of the exercise is illustration and in this respect McClean is something of an artist.”

It is the third time that McCoy has told his story, which Malachy Clerkin, writing in the Irish Times, feared was a little excessive, but was pleasantly surprised by the time he had finished McClean's version.

"The only reason he could justify having a third go at it would be if he had something to say about himself that he hadn’t said before," Clerkin wrote. "Thankfully, this is indeed the case. He takes his time in getting there, but by the end of this excellent book we do have some idea of what it is that drives McCoy, of where the madness comes from."

My Autobiography, by AP McCoy (Orion) is available from Amazon, WHSmith and Waterstones.

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