Sir A P McCoy took pity on the statue of himself which was unveiled today at Cheltenham.
“Unfortunately, it looks like me,” quipped the 20-time champion Jump jockey, after unveiling the statue which had been draped in the yellow and green colours of racehorse owner J P McManus, for whom Sir Anthony rode in the second half of his illustrious career.
Robert Waley-Cohen, chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, had opened the unveiling ceremony by speaking of Sir A P’s “astonishing record in taking 20 consecutive championships”, and reminding a large gathering of fans and media that the statue was the first depiction of a human, rather than a horse, at the home of Jump racing. It joins statues of Arkle, Golden Miller, Dawn Run and Best Mate.
Sir A P, who retired in April 2015, said: “I would like to say a huge thank you to Cheltenham – I never thought at any stage that there would be a statue of me, and I feel very proud and honoured. I would like to say thank you also to Paul Ferriter, who has sculpted this bronze.”
Dublin-based Ferriter is no stranger to famous subjects, for he has also sculpted Michael Cusack for Croke Park Stadium, Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, Sevvy Ballesteros and Barack Obama, in addition to Michael O’Leary’s Timico Gold Cup winner War Of Attrition – he is currently working on Don Cossack, also for O’Leary.
Asked about the nuances of attempting to depict the most famous Jump jockey, Ferriter, who was joined by his daughter, Ava, said: “His cheekbones, his jaw, his chin and hair are very distinctive, and I just wanted to capture the essence, the spirit of the man. He’s full of angles, and I loved doing it. I wanted to capture his steely determination.”
McManus was present for the occasion, and said: “It’s a wonderful job and it’s marvellous that he’s honoured here with the great horses. It’s very special and you don’t do it lightly.”
The life-size statue of McCoy can be found in the area below the paddock, and no doubt thousands of fans will touch it and take selfies with it this week, as they fondly remember the man who was the punters’ pal. In that respect it is perfectly placed, just a few metres from Best Mate.