If Anthony Wonke (Ronaldo, Fire In The Night) had just decided to concentrate on jump jockey Tony ‘A.P.’ McCoy’s achievements then his documentary would have been a fascinating watch… but when he makes the dynamic between McCoy and wife Chanelle its beating heart Being A.P. is elevated beyond a mere sports documentary.
McCoy’s achievements are legion. Over four thousand winners, Jump Jockey of the Year nine years in a row, MBE, OBE, Sportsman of the Year, and Sports Personality of the Year among them. It’s the last one – personality - that Wonke is interested in exploring, giving over as much to his personal life as it does to the action on the track. He finds a McCoy obsessed with racing - “It’s like being an addict” - and that collecting an award means that he’s not racing (ergo a waste of his precious time). He’s a straight talker who pushes himself to the extreme and expects new levels of excellence every time he races – imagine Roy Keane in a saddle. It’s this determination to be the best there ever was that helps him to ignore pain; McCoy has broken almost everything more than once but dismisses the life-threatening injuries as part of the game. “It would be so much easier if they didn’t stand on you, sure.”
But it’s the injuries that worry wife Chanelle, who urges him to retire. McCoy is a lot older – his face a little more wrinkled than the boyish ones that look at him with awe in the dressing room. McCoy resists Chanelle’s pleas, tries to explain that him and racing are one and the same and cannot be separated. Wonke shoots these exchanges fly-on-the-wall style, allowing the couple argue like there isn’t a camera lurking nearby. During one dinner scene, McCoy asks Chanelle what would he do if he retired and she replies, “They are plenty of lunchboxes to pack, bins to take out.” The look on his face is the look of a condemned man.
If McCoy doesn’t come across well he does at least honest. He makes no bones about his wants in life and that racing comes before anything: “You have to be selfish. No one else in the world is more important.” It’s this notion that is slowly chipped away at and while McCoy doesn’t suddenly become Super Husband by the close, his hard ambition softens somewhat as his last race nears. He can be humble too, pointing out that he also has the record for the most losses (but that’s only because he’s had so many races. One month saw him strive for 30 wins – that’s one race a day).
Not just for those who enjoy the gee-gees.