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McCoy rode his first winner, 'Legal Steps', at Thurles, on 26 March 1992 at the age of 17. Success in Ireland soon led to a move across the Irish Sea, and he began riding in England in 1994. McCoy's main trainer was Martin Pipe but they parted ways. He had begun working at a dealers yard when he was 15, and then apprenticed with Jim Bolger for 4 years.

McCoy has broken numerous records since he was granted a British licence, his first win in England coming at Exeter on 7 September 1994. He was soon off to a flying start by claiming a record 74 winners, and thus the conditional jockey championship, in the 1994-95 season. The following season he became champion jockey for the first time.

By the end of the decade he had set a new National Hunt record for winners in a season (253), equalled the record of five winners at the 1998 Cheltenham Festival, and became the fastest jockey to reach the 1000 winner mark.

McCoy went on to beat Gordon Richards' theretofore unbeaten record for winners in a season for all types of racing in 2002 (although by using modern technology McCoy was able to attend far more races than Richards). McCoy beat Richards' record of 269 winners in a season on 'Valfonic' at Warwick on 2 April 2002; he went on to end the campaign on 289.

McCoy soon achieved a new high of 289 winners, and on 27 August 2002, at Uttoxeter, his victory on 'Mighty Mantefalco' meant he had surpassed Richard Dunwoody's record of all time jumps winners and was now the leading jumps rider of all time.

On 3 October 2006 McCoy became the first jump jockey to ride 2,500 winners. McCoy rode his 3000th winner at Plumpton on the Nicky Henderson-trained 'Restless D'Artaix' in the Tyser & Co Beginners’ Chase on 9 February 2009. 'Restless D'Artaix' was sent off a 13-8 Favourite for the race.

McCoy has gone on to ride over 3000 winners and says he never stops dreaming of the day he will reach 4000.

Having won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, King George VI Chase and the Grand National. The nearest McCoy had previously come in the National were three third-place finishes, in 2001 and 2002 aboard Martin Pipe's Blowing Wind (as the 8-1 favourite in 2002), and in 2006 on Jonjo O'Neill's 5-1 joint favourite, Clan Royal. In 2009 he finished 7th on Butler's Cabin, which started as 7/1 favourite.

He finally won the Grand National at the fifteenth attempt, on 10 April 2010 aboard Don't Push It, trained by Jonjo O'Neill and owned by J. P. McManus.

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