NewsNorthern Ireland

Family man McCoy - One more for my boy

Northern IrelandBy Richard Sullivan
McCoy and Archie.jpg
McCoy and Archie.jpg

Champion jockey Tony McCoy promised his infant son he’d win one more title and retire.

A year ago at Sandown – scene of his final appearance as a professional rider – he was crowned Champion Jockey for the 19th time and he immediately set his sights on number 20.

Having passed the magical 4,000 winner mark it seemed the Co. Antrim man would go on forever.   

But it is understood even as he celebrated last year’s triumph he was thinking of the day he would pull the curtain down on his career.

The 40-year-old’s achievement in winning the title last year was all the more remarkable for the amount of time he spent out of the saddle because of injury and because of his son Archie’s health.

The record-breaking jockey had spent a number of weeks in intensive care after a heavy fall at Cheltenham but his season was further disrupted when his infant son was admitted to hospital for cardiac surgery.

The procedure  was a complete success but forced McCoy to miss part of the season.

He said concerns about Archie’s health had made it one of the “most difficult” periods of his career.

“As any parent will know, the health of their children is paramount,” he said. 

“Archie had recently been diagnosed with a bronchial tube narrowing, which was restricting the air flow to and from his lung.”

After a nervous vigil at the youngster’s bedside he only returned to the saddle once Archie had been given the all clear.

He admitted the feeling of not being in control or able to influence the outcome of things bothered him.

“Yes, I am a bit of a control freak.”

“I like being in control of everything. I need to be in control. I don’t drink. One of the main reasons is that I don’t like not being in control.”

And he has admitted it makes him hard to live with.

“When I wasn’t having a good time, when things weren’t going right, I had to control everything.”

He became obsessed with how his wife sometimes smoked.

She promised to stop but he caught her at a party in 2003.

In a rage he drove her home and went back to the party on his own.

The next day he told her the relationship was over, drove her to the station and left her on the platform.

He came back a few minutes later and told her to get back into the car.

Tony said: “You definitely won’t smoke again. That’s a lesson to you.”

In his autobiography he writes: “What a s*** I was. What a bully. What a control freak.”

But McCoy has mellowed thanks, in a large part, he says, to his children Eve and Archie.

The couple were fearful they would be unable to have kids after it was discovered he had an unusually low sperm count, the result of countless hot baths as he tried to control his weight.

“We went to the doctor to get results of tests,” he said.

“They took out our file, Chanelle Burke and AP McCoy, and there, written on the front of the file in yellow highlighter pen, just in case anybody in the world missed it, were two words: “Severe Case.” Not good.

“Basically, you are probably never going to have kids yourself,” the doc told me.”

He said their only hope lay in IVF.

“I probably expected that he would tell me that things weren’t great, that I would need to watch the hot baths, that I was lower than average, but I didn’t expect that I would be down at zero.

“Even if I had decided there and then that I wasn’t going to have any more hot baths, it was not going to improve. 

“So I froze some sperm there and then, and hoped for a miracle.”

The couple were married in September 2006, started IVF in January 2007 and by the end of February Chanelle was pregnant.

“We hit the bull’s-eye - first time. Miracles do happen.”