The sport put a jump in McCoy’s step

The star of Be­ing AP will miss the buzz that came with 4,300 wins

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - KATIE LAMB SPE­CIAL TO THE STAR

Stand­ing in front of a packed theatre on Mon­day night, An­thony McCoy — in a dark three-piece suit, with neatly cropped hair and a ra­di­ant smile — looked ev­ery bit the movie star, in town to pro­mote his new film at TIFF.

But a closer look at the Ir­ish­man’s face re­veals some­one who for the past two decades has, in his own words, lived with an ad­dic­tion: an ad­dic­tion to win­ning horse races. His gaunt cheeks and the sharp con­tours of his jaw­line point to a man who has main­tained a svelte 140 pounds de­spite his five-foot-10 frame.

His eyes are deep-set and hard­ened from over­pow­er­ing ev­ery­thing that has stood in his way — equine foes, fel­low riders, treach­er­ous ob­sta­cles — en route to the win­ner’s cir­cle. A.P. McCoy has cheated death more times than he’d prob­a­bly like to count on his mis­sion to be­come the great­est steeplechase jockey the world has ever seen — and per­haps will ever see.

McCoy, 41, hung up his sad­dle in April, end­ing a re­mark­able ca­reer in which he rode more win­ners (4,300) and more horses than any of his con­tem­po­raries, earn­ing 20 con­sec­u­tive Na­tional Hunt Cham­pion Jump Jockey ti­tles.

Bri­tish film­maker and di­rec­tor An­thony Wonke was granted ex­clu­sive ac­cess into McCoy’s fi­nal sea­son as a pro­fes­sional jockey and his ag­o­niz­ing de­ci­sion to re­tire from the only job he’s ever had in a sport he dom­i­nated. The re­sult is the doc­u­men­tary Be­ing AP, which made its world pre­miere here Mon­day night, and of­fers an in­ti­mate look at the daily strug­gles of the world’s top jockey — and the toll that ca­reer and the rac­ing lifestyle has on a fam­ily.

Be­ing AP fol­lows McCoy as he at­tempts to win 300 races in the 201415 rac­ing sea­son, but suf­fers a se­ri­ous in­jury that ul­ti­mately dashes that dream, lead­ing to his de­ci­sion to walk away from race rid­ing. But for McCoy, it was not an easy set­tle­ment. For a man so com­pet­i­tive, so sin­gu­larly fo­cused on win­ning, the film also ex­plores the ques­tion of how an ath­lete walks away from a sport that has de­fined him for more than half of his life.

Some be­lieve McCoy is the most ac­com­plished ath­lete in Bri­tish sport, on cham­pion ti­tles alone. McCoy rode his first win­ner in a flat race in Ire­land at the age of 17, but switched to jump rid­ing af­ter he grew too tall for flat rac­ing. In 2010, af­ter15 at­tempts, McCoy won the Grand Na­tional, horserac­ing’s most sto­ried steeplechase, and in the same year be­came the first jockey to be award- ed BBC Sportsper­son of the Year, the sign of Bri­tish sport­ing star­dom.

But McCoy’s body has paid the price. Over his ca­reer, he has suf­fered bro­ken shoul­der blades, bro­ken ribs, punc­tured lungs, bro­ken cheek­bones, chipped teeth and con­cus­sions from fall­ing from his mount dur­ing races, some­times be­ing tram­pled by his own horse or another run­ner.

At one point in the film, McCoy’s wife, Chanelle, re­veals that there have been times her hus­band has been thrown from a horse in one race and rid­den in the next race, with no rec­ol­lec­tion of the lat­ter.

But for McCoy, the bat­tle wounds come with the ter­ri­tory of be­ing the best in the sport.

McCoy suf­fered bro­ken ribs, a punc­tured lung and a bro­ken col­lar­bone (for the sec­ond time in his ca­reer) from a se­ri­ous fall at Worces­ter Race­course last Oc­to­ber, in­juries that ended his chance to eclipse his own sea­son wins record (289).

It was then that the fa­ther of two came to the re­al­iza­tion that the race he was never go­ing to win was the

“I love rac­ing, and I’m prob­a­bly the only per­son who is go­ing to miss bounc­ing off the floor.” A.P. MCCOY JOCKEY

one against time.

In Fe­bru­ary, af­ter win­ning aboard McManus’ Mr Mole at New­bury Race­course in Eng­land, McCoy an­nounced he would re­tire from rid­ing, send­ing shock­waves through the in­ter­na­tional rac­ing com­mu­nity.

“I want to go out while I still en­joy rid­ing and am still rel­a­tively at the top,” he told re­porters af­ter the race. “I love rac­ing, and I’m prob­a­bly the only per­son who is go­ing to miss bounc­ing off the floor . . . I know I am never go­ing to find any­thing to re­place that buzz.”

CLIVE ROSE/GETTY IM­AGES

A.P. McCoy, left, had 20 straight Na­tional Hunt Cham­pion Jump Jockey ti­tles, and won the Grand Na­tional in 2010.

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