Cheltenham 2017: Statue tribute strictly for the birds, jokes AP McCoy
Antrim horse racing legend AP McCoy has joked that a new statue in his honour to be unveiled at the Cheltenham racing festival will "give the birds somewhere to sit".
The sculpture is to be unveiled tomorrow, Champion Day.
The bronze bust of the Moneyglass man, which was sculpted by Dublin-based Paul Ferriter, will be revealed on the Best Mate Plaza at the north entrance to the racecourse.
Mr McCoy added: "I last saw Paul's work about seven weeks ago, just before it was about to get bronzed and it looked very, very good.
"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. I thought most people get a statue when they were dead. I guess it will give the birds somewhere to sit."
Thousands of racing fans from Northern Ireland make the annual pilgrimage to Cheltenham to enjoy the racing.
The local love affair with Cheltenham dates back generations and for many this is the biggest week of the year.
Such is the demand, Ryanair puts on an extra 30 flights on the Dublin-to-Birmingham route during the festival period to cater for punters.
Some 220,000 pints of Guinness will be drunk by the 65,000 fans who will pack the racecourse every day during the four-day festival.
Nearly 6,000 staff are drafted in for the week and the local economy is set to benefit to the tune of £100m.
Among those competing will be the Irish prodigy Jack Kennedy, who will be hoping to be the talk of the track this year.
The 17-year-old Kerry sensation could well saddle a fancied horse in the Timico Gold Cup later this week and it would be the stuff of fairytales if he were to deliver.