Punters doubt ‘legend’ McCoy’s retirement

Michael Guiney, 70, from Andersonstown
Michael Guiney, 70, from Andersonstown

A number of those planning to bet on Saturday’s Grand National expressed doubt that AP McCoy truly will retire.

Michael Guiney, a 70-year-old retired binman from Andersonstown, said of his chances in the Grand National: “I don’t fancy him to win it.”

James Hegarty, 29, who lives in south Belfast

James Hegarty, 29, who lives in south Belfast

He will instead opt for Many Clouds and Balthazar King instead of McCoy’s Shutthefrontdoor, noting: “He is not top jockey 20 times for nothing – but it’s the horse that’s under him.”

As to his retirement, he said: “I’ll make a prediction now... AP is so in love with the game, he has to be sitting on top of a horse. He’ll be back.”

Asked if he will bet on AP, James Hegarty, a 29-year-old student living in south Belfast, said: “You look at the trainer, the jockey, then a little bit of form, then throw a dart at the page to see what you want. It’s as random as anything.”

Speaking about his proposed retirement, he said: “It’s a fantastic career. It’s rare any sportsman dominates his profession that much for so long.

“Probably Phil Taylor in darts; Tiger Woods in golf; Alex Ferguson as manager. But how often does someone stay on top year after year?”

It is a feat that “will probably never be replicated again”.

He added: “Never say never about McCoy. He could go away for a couple of years and hate being away from it.”

Jim Smyth, a 74-year-old retired railway worker from west Belfast, said he will probably back him, adding: “Hopefully he wins and gets out of the game. He’s done enough. He deserves to retire. He’s a legend.”

He noted that, with Best, Higgins and others, Northern Ireland produces many fine sportsmen “for a wee place.”

Rob Hagans, a 67-year-old former roofer from south Belfast, said the odds were perhaps a bit too short for him to back McCoy today.

But he said: “You’ll never see the like of him again. Twenty times a champion jockey – it’s unheard of.”

Once he retires, and realises he is out of the game “in one piece”, Mr Hagans said: “He’ll not be back.”