- Tony McCoy rides his 4,000th winner in steeplechase racing
- 39-year-old from Northern Ireland has broken all records in his sport
- Nearest challenger over 1,500 winners behind
- McCoy is an 18 time champion in Britain
He's broken nearly every bone in his body in one of the most exacting all sports -- on the way setting records for jump racing that many predict will never be surpassed -- but Thursday saw Northern Ireland's Tony McCoy reach a very special milestone.
The 18-time champion jockey made it 4,000 career winners when he rode Mountain Tunes to victory at a meeting at Towcester racecourse in central England.
The extent of McCoy's longevity and domination of racing over the fences in Britain and Ireland can be gauged by the fact that his nearest challenger, Richard Johnson, is some 1500 wins adrift of him.
Victory on the 6-4 favorite came in typical style, two lengths behind at the final fence before driving his mount home in the novice hurdle to beat Jamie Moore on Kris Spin by half a length.
It was also fitting that it came on a horse owned by the legendary JP McManus and trained by former Jonjo O'Neill, a combination which has supplied many winners for McCoy.
"It's amazing, it couldn't have worked out any better for Jonjo, JP, the McManuses have been so good to me, it was always going to be hopefully that I was going to ride it (the 4,000th winner) in JP's colours," McCoy told gathered reporters.
Racing followers have been kept on the edge of their seats in recent weeks as McCoy produced a steady stream of winners to close on the 4,000 mark and he went into the Towcester meeting one short.
Johnson paid tribute to his rival for his incredible achievements.
"He has completely rewritten what we thought was achievable in a season and a career," he told AFP.
"He seems to get it right all the time and is a great ambassador for our sport, a true professional sportsman."
Stan Mellor became the first jump jockey to ride 1,000 winners in 1971 and his record was subsequently broken by fellow greats John Francome (1,138 wins), Peter Scudamore (1,678) and Richard Dunwoody (1,699) before McCoy got to work in 1992 with his first winner at the age of just 17.
Many flat racing jockeys in other countries have notched up more winners than McCoy, but their careers are generally longer and do not put themselves at risk of heavy falls that are a feature of jumping over fences under National Hunt rules.
McCoy, who won a prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award in 2010, is showing no signs of slowing up and bookmakers are offering odds of as low as 6-1 that he will reach 5,000 winners before he retires.