“Simply the best…”

Not the chart topper by Annie Mae Bullock, but a statement made by those sitting in betting shops across the country, pundits both professional and self-appointed and many of those that regularly frequent racecourses about the-as I type this over an hour after he weighed in for the final time-now retired 20 times champion jockey, AP McCoy. I must modestly claim some part in his emergence to dominate a sport for a quite unbelievable two decades; when starting his career as a spotty faced apprentice, he rode two winners for me. AP, ‘Wee Anthony” or “Champ” (as I am reliably informed by those who have walked around with him at the start of many a handicap hurdle/novice chase), is demonstrably and unequivocally the most successful ever National Hunt jockey thus far and most probably for eternity. But is he the best ever? Good question and on which will be deemed nigh on sacrilegious to those delivering a panegyric to the man. The most driven and determined? The jockey to whom you would entrust the last £20 of your child’s savings? The jockey who will ride as hard in a selling hurdle at Plumpton on a wet Monday as the Champion Hurdle at the Festival? All answered unhesitatingly in the affirmative. The best ever jockey in terms of if you had the choice of any jockey to ride your horse in the Champion Hurdle or any other Premier League race? Maybe not. Top five; yes. Top of the top five for delivering on the biggest of occasions; not always.
What does this have to do with estate agency, (aside from my own crucial role in his embryonic career)? Well if one reads the descriptions of some of my fellow estate agents, “The biggest in Wales”, “First in Wales”, “More offices than any other in Wales”, does it actually make them the best and what exactly are the criteria for qualifying as ‘the best’? It does not make an iota of difference to a vendor that you have 200 houses on your books and your last 20 clients think that the sun shines out of your every orifice. It is how you deal with their property and their experience of your professional conduct that colours their opinion of you. Just as it is how McCoy rode an owner’s horse on a specific day that determines whether they think he is the best. He was great on the two winners that he brought home for me, but so were all the other members of the weighing room who managed to get my pony into the coveted Number 1 spot (having been ahead on Mr McCoy at the only point in a race where it matters: the winning post). I remember once in my corporate days holding court in the pub on a Friday night, recounting to the masses how I had sold ‘x’ number of houses that month, when someone from the other side of the room shouted, “Well you haven’t sold my f”£$*$%”. At that point, the 20 properties that I had sold meant absolutely zero to the pub audience, the vendor and me. They illustrated my productivity and ability to sell a house-to the 20 successful vendors-but not to the gentleman whose house still sported a ‘For Sale’ sign. Hard-working, busy, charming, good-looking, James Bond stunt double; all true. The best? Not quite so easy to define. As Brian Clough once replied if asked if he was the best manager in the league, “No, but I am top of a list of one”…