AP “Tony” McCoy, the legendary former British jump jockey, became the first jockey since Sir Gordon Richards in 1953 to be knighted.
The 42-year-old Irishman, who was champion jockey 20 times during his distinguished career, became only the second rider to be knighted in the history of the honours system when he attended an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday.
The ceremony was conducted by Anne, the Princess Royal, and McCoy typically kneeled to have her tap his shoulder with the flat edge of a sword.
‘It’s the only time in my life I think I’ve ever felt nervous in front of her,’ Sir Tony said about the Princess whom he has known for a long time.
Cracking his trademark smile, Sir Tony said: ‘I am sure her daughter probably told her to threaten to let the sword slip maybe just for the fun of it. But I was very honoured.’
‘I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with her and obviously (I’m) very friendly with Zara and Peter (Phillips, the Princess’s children) as well.
He said Anne, who won individual gold at the 1971 European Championships before becoming the first member of the British Royal Family to compete in the Olympics in 1976, said she was ‘very honoured’ to be conducting the ceremony and was ‘very proud’ of what he had achieved in horse racing.
Sir Tony said the Princess also asked him about his retirement from the sport, last April.
Speaking after the investiture, McCoy said he was ‘grieving’ for the end of his career, but added he would not dwell on the past.
He said: ‘I am enjoying it, but I miss the thrill, the excitement of winning, I actually miss the danger of it. You can’t replace it. You have to accept the fact that a sports person is probably the only person who ever really dies twice.
McCoy claimed his first Champion Jockey title in 1995/96 and went on to win it every year until his retirement in 2015. He rode 4358 winners and was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2010. He received a lifetime achievement award from the BBC in 2015.
On a great day for the Republic of Ireland, who beat Italy in the Euro 2016 Soccer Tournament, another famous retired Irish jockey celebrated his birthday.
Mick Kinane, the cucumber cool flat jockey associated with greats such as Galileo, High Chaparral, Sea The Stars, Giant’s Causeway, Montjeu and Hawk Wing, turned 57 on Wednesday.
The man British punters loved to shout home with cheers of, “Go Mickey Joe!” retired in December 2009 after a 34-year career in the irons.