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.”
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.”