Tony McCoy thanked the racing public for making the last two months of his career the most memorable of all as their appreciation helped him cope with the thought of retirement.
Since announcing his intention to retire in February, McCoy has enjoyed a farewell tour up and down the country as well as travelling over to Ireland, with the attendance at usually mundane midweek meetings boosted by his presence.
The adulation shown to him has made the 20-times champion jockey realise just how much he affected the lives of the racing fraternity but while the decision to quit seemed to some to come out of the blue, McCoy feels he owes it to his family to go out at the top.
Speaking to At The Races on the first morning he could no longer call himself a jockey he said: “We had a very good night but I’ve just got up and haven’t got round to eating breakfast yet. I can smell it, though, and someone has done the right thing and cooked me a nice breakfast.
“It was very difficult to take it all in yesterday, the crowd, the people round the parade ring, the great racing public came out in force and I was very flattered and honoured by it all.
“To get a reception like that for doing something I’ve loved to do for pretty much all my life, I’m really going to miss it.
“I told all the lads yesterday to enjoy it while you’re doing it because the end comes quickly.
“It’s very nice to feel that I have the respect of people up and down the country. For the last 21 years I’ve ridden up and down the country pretty much full on but over the last two and a half months people have come out to give me a wonderful welcome and I’m very grateful of that.
“It would be very difficult not to notice how that has developed and I’d like to thank all those people for coming out and making the last few months of my career so special and making it a little bit easier.
“When I decided to retire I always thought I’d go to Sandown on the last day and say ‘thanks very much’ but having spoken to Dave (Roberts, agent), he said I was very privileged to be champion jockey for the 20th time and we kind of felt, for my own peace of mind, to do it like we did would help me come to terms with actually retiring.
“We also felt it might be a good thing for racing, people probably deserved to know,” he added.
“I thought it would die down but it never really did and those are things I’ll remember for ever. When I looked around yesterday, as difficult as it was it helped me realise I’d made the right decision.
“If I’d carried on and maybe not been as good as I was a lot of these people might not have come out. It’s hard to say it but it is probably the right decision.
“I feel satisfied through what has happened with my life but I’ve also said I’d love another go because I feel I could still do it better than anybody!”
McCoy said he was proud of what he had achieved in his career but added that he had so many people to thank for making it all possible.
“I never felt like I did a day’s work in my life, I’ve felt a lot of satisfaction and fulfilment and I’m very proud of what I’ve been lucky enough to achieve but so many people have helped that happen, I was just the lucky one who got on the best horse most of the time,” he said.
“The owners, the trainers, the lads, the horses, I could go on all day thanking people.
“There’s a lot of things I’ll miss but there’s some that I won’t, like spending a lot of time in a hospital and ringing doctors begging for help to make me better.
“Obviously my wife Chanelle wanted me to retire but at the same time I knew myself it was the right time for my family, my mum and dad are in their 70s now and don’t enjoy watching me as much any more because of the dangers involved so it certainly makes their life easier,” he added.
“I never thought of the dangers and when I got injured I felt I was unlucky and it wouldn’t happen again but I know the dangers and they first became apparent to me when I was at Toby Balding’s and Richard Davies died and just lately you only need to see what happened to John Thomas (McNamara) and Robbie McNamara.”