Racing: McCoy takes Richards' 55-year-old record

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Tony McCoy, the champion jumps jockey, yesterday broke the record for riding the number of winners in a single season previously held for 55 years by the Flat racing jockey Sir Gordon Richards.

The Irishman rode a treble at Warwick, equalling Richards's record of 269 winners on Shepherds Rest, then followed up victory on the 4-1 shot Valfonic.

McCoy displayed all his trademark tenacity with a typically strong ride on Valfonic. The four-year-old looked to be struggling but McCoy conjured a run out of the Martin Pipe-trained hurdler to seal his place in racing history.

Officialdom recognised the achievement of the Ulsterman. The British Horseracing Board chairman, Peter Savill, commented: "Tony McCoy's style, drive, commitment and ceaseless workrate encapsulate all that is best about British racing and his new record will set a standard others will struggle ever to match."

Christopher Spence, the senior steward of the Jockey Club, said: "Sir Gordon's record had stood for over 50 years and was a remarkable achievement. Indeed, the Herculean efforts required of Tony McCoy to overhaul it have undoubtedly helped today's racegoing public appreciate all the talents of both men, as well as enabling us to witness history being made. Racing needs its heroes, both equine and human, and in Tony McCoy, racing can lay claim to having one of the modern era's truly great sporting achievers."

Steve Smith-Eccles, the triple Champion Hurdle winning rider of See You Then in the late 1980s, hailed McCoy's performance. He said: "It's the most unbelievable achievement in National Hunt racing. In my day you would have been champion jockey with 70 or 80 winners. Okay, there's more racing now with Sunday and evening meetings, but even so just by the nature of the job staying in one piece to ride a full season without getting injured – that's the most incredible thing. He's a credit to the sport and it's a phenomenal achievement."

Carl Llewellyn, who has twice ridden the winner of the Grand National, added: "It's obviously a great achievement for Tony and we are all very, very pleased for him as he's brilliant and a true professional in and out of the saddle."

McCoy was quoted by the Tote at 3-1 back in August to reach the magical figure of 300 winners in a season. He has until 30 April.