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Dean Ryan

Dean Ryan

The Long Goodbye

AP McCoy at LeopardstownAP McCoy at Leopardstown
© Photo Healy Racing

It was said on RacingFM this week that AP McCoy is now going to enjoy the "long goodbye" similar to that received by Brian O'Driscoll when he announced he was to retire from Rugby, and I am sure other examples will spring to people's minds when I make that comparison.

He will hopefully do just that but if it is to be a memorable few months of well wishes and the success in the saddle that we have come to expect then the man himself will have to work just as hard and possibly harder for it to be anywhere near what he expects.

The difference between McCoy and the rest of his weighing room companions has been discussed a million times and gets a lot of focus. I note that the majority view is that he is not the greatest, not the most stylish and not the most gifted. I very much disagree with the last part of that statement but gifted covers more to my eye than a position in the saddle and a pair of soft hands.

Paul Carberry was on the Talking Horses show this week on Tuesday and said that even at 15 years old when they were both at Jim Bolger's yard the difference between them was noticeable. Even at that tender age when other things might be on a young man's mind the focus and determination to improve every day and win, and only win was there. "I didn't think he'd ever stop riding!"

That to me is the biggest gift and one that has been harnessed by a drive and determination that is so unforgiving on the possessor, AP McCoy, insurmountable for his horses on the track and his rivals in the saddle.

We talked on the same Talking Horses show with Dave Roberts, agent to the Champ and a huge part of the success story. Another hugely driven man who is responsible for many of the top names in the sport other than AP and he talked of the opportunity now for others to step up. It is an opportunity knocks situation and whilst we don't know who will be the biggest benefactor in the hole his retirement will create I would say you cannot replace this man with just one man.

AP himself took time out to come on air with us and it's remarkable that he still feels he can never achieve what he has wanted to achieve in the sport. Niall Cronin asked him what we could do to make the next couple of months match his unique level of ambition and he suggested the big four at Cheltenham. Nothing but everything then, and that is how he has always gone about his job and why he wins when he shouldn't and why we all marvel at it when it happens.

The chances of that happening are of course unlikely, with horses rather than jockey the key ingredient to any success on the track, but you wouldn't be surprised by anything topping off a career that is underlined by marvel.

A long goodbye it is then and probably ending at Punchestown is what the man deserves. It will involve many a trip to the smaller tracks and many an interview, autograph, handshake and selfie opportunity as the public grab any chance available.

It took him an hour or so to make the weighing room after the Hennessey last weekend and he may find the trip from winners enclosure to the jockeys room a long but rewarding short walk many more times over the next few months.

Even when it comes to his fans this man goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Good luck and stay safe AP, a long goodbye maybe but it won't be long enough for us mere mortals.

You can catch this week's Talking Horses show on IrishRacing.com soundcloud account.