O'Sullevan hails McCoy success

The "voice of racing" Sir Peter O'Sullevan has expressed his delight at Tony McCoy being voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The 15-times champion jump jockey ended racing's wait to win the award when gaining a landslide success at the ceremony in Birmingham on Sunday night.



"It was fantastic. I was so sorry to miss it. It was only the second time I've ever missed it and it was one I would have most liked to have been present at," said O'Sullevan.



"I thought it was absolutely marvellous AP winning and I thought his acceptance was perfection. He's a serious role model and I think it's marvellous for the sport.



"It was really tremendous and so well merited. His single mindedness and dedication has been exceptional.



"At the same time he is the only Sport for Good ambassador representing racing with something like 60 sporting icons. It's a wonderful global organisation designed to help young people and keep them off the streets.



"He's a very generous-hearted person and like his boss, JP (McManus), his work is anonymous, but it is widely appreciated within racing. That's why his success was particularly emotional.



"We've waited a long time for this recognition. You'd have thought with Lester (Piggott) and Frankie (Dettori) not able to win it we'd never win it."







Channel 4 Racing pundit John McCririck believes that the time is now right for McCoy to receive a knighthood.



"You must remember that a year ago he wasn't even nominated, so winning the Grand National on Don't Push It was the vital thing," he said.



"It shows the sense of the British public and with Phil Taylor second, the 15-times darts champion.



"And in fairness it gives real credit to Racing for Change. The BHA and Nick Attenborough launched a tremendous campaign not only on the racing pages but on the sports pages, getting him onto the news pages and into magazines and also the part AP played in it.



"We know what an extraordinary human being he is and I think he should be get a knighthood.



"We've got Sir Gordon Richards as the only other jockey that was knighted and it would be fantastic if it was in this year's honours list. If not, then he certainly deserves a knighthood. No man has worked harder for it.



"We know his attributes and now the public does and we've got two recognisable faces in racing - Frankie Dettori and AP.



"It is up to the establishment to say this man is a true giant in our world."







Recently-crowned champion Flat jockey Paul Hanagan felt privileged to be in the audience as McCoy lifted the trophy.



"I was fortunate to be at the awards and it was a very special night with AP winning it, he's an inspiration to everyone in the sport," he said.









McCoy's total domination over his peers reached new heights when he teamed up with trainer Martin Pipe, who has now retired.



"I was glued to the TV and I had my few votes for AP," said Pipe.



"He totally deserves it and I was very proud. He's the best jockey of all time and I can honestly say he is a true friend.



"He's great for racing and great for sport. He thoroughly deserves it and to get 40% of the vote is incredible.



"He always stood out, he always had so much dedication to win and he gets the best out of every horse.



"It really was great to see him win the Grand National. He's always worked very hard at it and his desire to do it day in and day out is phenomenal.



"Pridwell beating Istabraq is one that really sticks out for me. He coaxed him home to put his head in front.



"One of AP's great strengths is that he knows exactly where the winning line is.



"There are so many happy memories, he rode over 1,500 winners for us," he told At The Races.









Leading racing figures have been quick to pay their own tributes, with outgoing BHA chief executive Nic Coward effusive in his praise for McCoy.



He said: "It's fantastic that the sporting genius of AP McCoy has been recognised in this way.



"A few years years ago at the outset of Racing for Change, we discussed a jockey ever becoming Sports Personality of the Year.



"It seemed a long shot, but an all time great has done it."



Champion National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls said: "I'm really impressed at how the whole of racing got behind him.



"A brilliant result for AP to win it and a fantastic result for the sport."



Frankie Dettori, who managed third place in the award in 1996, said: "A massive well done to McCoy.



"He really deserves this for all he's achieved and it's also a brilliant result for racing."



Ryan Moore, a three-times champion jockey on the Flat, said: "I'm really delighted that he won but he really should have won it 10 years ago."



John Francome, a seven-times champion jockey in the 1970s and 80s, said: "This award is long overdue, it's just a pity that he had to win a Grand National to get it."



His long-time friend and former weighing room colleague, Mick Fitzgerald, said: "Racing needed this and it shows what a strong sport we are to achieve it.



"In racing we know that he's a brilliant sportsman, and now the wider sports world knows as well."



Trainer Nicky Henderson, who has second claim on McCoy's services, said: "From our point of view we are lucky to see him regularly and I'm lucky to count him as a friend as much as a jockey.



"The likes of John Francome, Peter Scudamore and Richard Dunwoody were great jockeys who changed the face of riding but AP dwarfed what they achieved.



"It shows the magnitude of the man."



Ruby Walsh, who stays with McCoy on his many trips over to England, said: "It's no more than a sports person who achieves so much every year, competes as competitively and consistently and wins so much so often, deserves."







McCoy spent the formative years of his career in England under the tutelage of Toby Balding, who had masterminded the careers of the likes of Adrian Maguire and Peter Scudamore through their early days.



Balding said: "I went to see him ride at Wexford where he got beat but when I met him afterwards he immediately impressed me.



"He'd had a good grounding. Jim Bolger did an amazing job with him and he'd ridden winners on the Flat.



"The greatest thing about him is that he is a great listener, he always has been, and he's an intelligent man.



"I remember once telling him he had earned a holiday and told him to go home for a bit but all he did was get himself three rides at Kilbeggan, racing was all he wanted to do."



McCoy's agent, Dave Roberts, added: "It's very hard to tell him not to ride when he has falls.



"But If AP says, 'I'm ready to go', then we go.



"He's a little bit of a freak in the sense he keeps getting back from falls, but he knows his own body.



"From his point of view I think he'd ride in every race every day, but I've grown a lot choosier in the latter years when it comes to what he rides."







Owner Jim Lewis provided McCoy with two of the biggest victories of his career, with Best Mate in the 2002 King George VI Chase and Edredon Bleu in the 2000 Queen Mother Champion Chase.



"Anthony's performance on Edredon Bleu was terrific. They were headed 100 yards out but got back up. Also it was the last time the Queen Mother presented the trophy which made it extra special," said Lewis.



"We've always had a nice relationship. Everybody knows about his achievements but not everybody knows him as a man. He's a gent."



The last word is left for Jim Bolger, with whom it all began for McCoy.



"It was a very enjoyable show - I'm delighted for Anthony and his family," said the County Carlow handler.



"I remember him very well. He was a lovely young man, very mannerly and very active about the place.



"As a person, he was a bit special, but I wouldn't have been foolish enough to think he was going to be champion jockey.



"But as time went on, there were big possibilities for him.



"Nobody could be happier than I was and how it has worked out."

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Arts & Entertainment
film
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal