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Knight's honour opens the Cheltenham festival

Sir A P McCoy unveils statue at jump racing's blue riband meeting

Malcolm Howe

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Malcolm Howe

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Knight's honour opens the Cheltenham festival

Sir A P McCoy unveils the statue before racing starts on the opening day of the Cheltenham festival

THE annual jump racing festival at Cheltenham opened on Tuesday by honouring former champion jockey Sir AP McCoy by unveiling a new bronze statue of the master rider.

Sir A P revealed the statue by saying: “Unfortunately, it looks like me,” as he pulled aside the yellow and green colours of racehorse owner J P McManus, for whom Sir Anthony rode for much of his career.

Robert Waley-Cohen, chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse highighted the 20-times champion jockey’s “astonishing record in taking 20 consecutive championships” as he led the tributes to 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 on permanent display at the course.

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 has previously 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.

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