How many winners did Sir Anthony McCoy ride at the Cheltenham Festival?
Sir Anthony McCoy may have been the force majeure in British National Hunt racing for the whole of his 20-year career as a professional jockey, but that wasn’t quite the case at the Cheltenham Festival. McCoy, who retired from race riding in April, 2015, rode a total of 4,348 winners under National Hunt rules – including a single season record of 289 in 2001/02 – and monopolised the Jump Jockeys’ Championship for two decades.
However, at the March showpiece, McCoy rode just 31 winners, which places him third on the all-time list, behind Ruby Walsh, with 59 winners, and Barry Geraghty, with 43. He rode his first winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Kibreet, trained by Philip Hobbs, in the Grand Annual Chase in 1996, but enjoyed his most productive spell at Prestbury Park in 1997 and 1998. At that stage of his career, while not officially stable jockey to Martin Pipe, McCoy had entered into an agreement whereby his agent could book him for any Pipe-trained horse he wanted to ride.
In 1997, McCoy won the Arkle Challenge Trophy on Or Royal and the Champion Hurdle on Make A Stand, both trained by Pipe, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Mr. Mulligan, trained by Noel Chance. Those three winners were sufficient to win him the leading jockey award for the first time. The following season, he did so again with five winners, namely Champleve, in the Arkle Challenge Trophy, Cyfor Malta, in the Cathcart Challenge Cup, Blowing Wind, in the County Hurdle, Edredon Bleu, in the Grand Annual Chase and Unsinkable Boxer, in the Pertemps Final; all bar Edredon Bleu were trained by Martin Pipe.
Later in his career, McCoy would win the Champion Hurdle twice more, on Brave Inca in 2006 and Binocular in 2010, and the Cheltenham Gold Cup once more, on Synchronised in 2012. He never won the Stayers’ Hurdle, but did win the Queen Mother Champion once, on Edredon Bleu in 2000.