Sir Tony McCoy statue to be unveiled on opening day of Cheltenham Festival

Saturday, Feb 18 2017

Cheltenham Racecourse has announced that a statue of Sir Tony McCoy will be unveiled on the opening day of next month's Festival.

McCoy retired nearly two years ago having been crowned champion jockey 20 times and ridden 31 winners at National Hunt racing's showpiece meeting.

The lifesize bronze of the legendary rider, which was crafted by Dublin-based sculptor Paul Ferriter, will be situated on the Best Mate Plaza by the north entrance to the racecourse.

McCoy said: "I last saw Paul's work about seven weeks ago, just before it was about to get bronzed and it looked 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 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."

Ian Renton, regional director, Cheltenham & The South West, the Jockey Club, added: "The achievements of Sir AP McCoy are truly outstanding and we are proud to recognise them with this permanent tribute at the home of jump racing.

"Paul's work is absolutely outstanding and it will be a great prelude to the Festival when the statue is unveiled to the public before racing on Champion Day."

Ferriter said he met McCoy a few times before returning to his studio with a set of his racing silks.

"AP 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."