Racing full of praise for Tony McCoy after BBC award

THE "voice of racing" Sir Peter O'Sullevan has expressed his delight at Tony McCoy being voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The 15-time champion jump jockey ended racing's wait to win the award when gaining a landslide success at the ceremony in Birmingham on Sunday night.

"It was fantastic. I was so sorry to miss it. It was only the second time I've ever missed it and it was one I would have most liked to have been present at," said 92-year-old O'Sullevan. "I thought it was absolutely marvellous AP winning and I thought his acceptance was perfection. He's a serious role model and I think it's marvellous for the sport. It was really tremendous and so well merited. His single mindedness and dedication has been exceptional.

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"At the same time he is the only Sport for Good ambassador representing racing with something like 60 sporting icons. It's a wonderful global organisation designed to help young people and keep them off the streets. He's a very generous-hearted person and like his boss, JP (McManus), his work is anonymous, but it is widely appreciated within racing. That's why his success was particularly emotional. We've waited a long time for this recognition. You'd have thought with Lester (Piggott) and Frankie (Dettori) not able to win it we'd never win it."

Recently-crowned champion Flat jockey Paul Hanagan felt privileged to be in the audience as McCoy lifted the trophy. "I was fortunate to be at the awards and it was a very special night with AP winning it, he's an inspiration to everyone in the sport," he said.

Other leading racing figures were quick to pay their own tributes, with champion National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls saying: "I'm really impressed at how the whole of racing got behind him. A brilliant result for AP to win it and a fantastic result for the sport."

Frankie Dettori, who managed third place in the award in 1996, said: "He really deserves this for all he's achieved and it's a brilliant result for racing." Ryan Moore, a three-times champion jockey on the Flat, said: "I'm delighted he won but he should have won it ten years ago."

John Francome, a seven-time champion jockey in the 1970s and 80s, said: "This award is long overdue, it's just a pity that he had to win a Grand National to get it."

His long-time friend and former weighing room colleague, Mick Fitzgerald, said: "Racing needed this and it shows what a strong sport we are to achieve it. In racing we know that he's a brilliant sportsman, and now the wider sports world knows as well."

Trainer Nicky Henderson said: "The likes of John Francome, Peter Scudamore and Richard Dunwoody were great jockeys who changed the face of riding but AP dwarfed what they achieved.It shows the magnitude of the man."

Ruby Walsh, who stays with McCoy on his many trips over to England, said: "It's no more than a sports person who achieves so much every year, competes as competitively and consistently and wins so much so often, deserves."