A. P. McCoy, Sports Personality of the Year, is filling a lot of newsprint, I have already written one piece on the subject and it won’t be the last. Brian Viner interviewed McCoy in the Independent 17.12.10 and in a double page spread the subject of whips didn’t come up once, and it’s not going to in this piece either, which makes some sort of a record.
McCoy is describing JP and Noreen McManus, owners of Don’t Push it, McCoy’s 2010 Grand National winner, and he says “they are unbelievably in love with horses and you find very few people who are in racing for that reason. The only problem I have with JP is that he wants to take the horses home with him. He just loves looking at them, making sure they are OK.”
Earlier in the piece Viner notes that “public affection is less gushing for the jockeys than it is for their mounts.”
You see the rest of the world, outside the charmed circle of racehorse owners, with the honourable exception of JP and Noreen, racehorse trainers and jockeys, love horses, and McCoy says, “There are very few people who are in racing for that reason.”
But he is wrong, Jenny, who put me and Simon up for the night when I was pulling him from Brecon to Birmingham, walked a couple of miles to greet us with a torch because she was worried about me being on the road at night. Simon’s choice, he can take the flak, but she cared about me, enough to think about me, and make a serious effort to see I was safe. She works in racing, but at the shit shovelling end, and you know what is really strange, the people who shovel the shit, and brush us, and feed us and look after us, on shit wages, and lousy hours and bloody dangerous conditions, they are unbelievably in love with horses.
But the rich, and the “horsey” set and the owners and the Jockeys getting the prizes, and the trainers, and the bookies and the punters, they don’t love horses. An honourable few, JP and Maureen, are worth mentioning, because the pinnacle of the racing establishment, the man the racing establishment says is going to represent them, says that JP and Noreen “are unbelievably in love with horses and you find very few people who are in racing for that reason.”
Well then you shouldn’t be allowed to use us as gambling counters. We aren’t toys, we are people.
If you don’t love the horses, there are millions of people who do. I have spent days in Birmingham, in Balsall Heath, and everyone there likes ponies. I have done some big biker bashes, and they are really great guys. I have a whale of a time. They really love ponies.
Don’t try taking me racing if loving horses is rare. It must be the only place in the world where loving horses is seen as some sort of weird aberration. The rest of humanity love us. Please, if you are going to give someone a prize, pick someone from a sport where loving horses isn’t seen as a little bit freaky, give it to boxing, or darts or motorcycling, where loving horses is seen as normal.