Statue dedicated to jockey AP McCoy to be unveiled on Cheltenham Festival opening day
A STATUE of record-breaking jockey Tony McCoy will be unveiled on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.
The life-size bronze will be situated on the Best Mate Plaza by the north entrance to the racecourse and will be revealed on March 14.
It was crafted by Dublin-based sculptor Paul Ferriter, who boasts an extensive portfolio including the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition and leading golfers.
Sir Tony, who retired from the saddle at the end of the 2014/15 season, was the most successful jockey jump racing has ever known.
He was champion Jump jockey a record 20 times, taking the title every season between 1995/96 and 2014/15, and partnered an incredible 4,358 jump winners during his career.
His 31 successes at Cheltenham include two Gold Cups as well as three Champion Hurdles.
Sir Tony, who is now a TV racing pundit, said: "I last saw Paul's work about seven weeks ago, just before it was about to get bronzed and it look very, very good.
"I took some videos and showed them to friends who agreed that Paul has really captured my likeness.
"Some of my friends were wondering whether the statue was going to be the old or new me - the 10 stone one or the 12 stone one.
"Paul has done really well in sculpturing me as a jockey and it was a very enjoyable working with him.
"His dedication to getting it right was really outstanding, from measuring me to videoing me and when I was standing for him.
"I thought most people got a statue when they were dead. I guess it will give the birds somewhere to sit."
Ferriter said he met Sir Tony a few times before returning to his studio with a set of his racing silks.
"AP (Sir Tony) was very easy to work with and very likeable. For me, as a sculptor, he was a brilliant subject. AP has a really great face with incredible cheekbones, a great jaw and chin as well as really good hair," he said.
"He is also a really funny guy and was incredibly obliging throughout the process. In terms of the piece, what I really wanted to try and capture was the kind of intensity that AP has, his total dedication.
"I have basically produced the classic AP pose - standing with his arms folded and the whip under his arm, with an intense look on his face. It is a pre-race pose, lost in maybe that pre-race anxiety and always looking to the future.
"One challenge I did have was the fact AP has changed a lot since he stopped riding. So I had to go over old images and photos - I really wanted to get the look he had when he was a jockey and at his racing weight. All of us change over time.
"It was a six-month project from start to finish. I will be at Cheltenham for every day of The Festival and am very much looking forward to the statue being unveiled on Champion Day."