The life-size Bonecrusher statue was unveiled at Ellerslie yesterday.
Ahead of tomorrow's Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Day and the Group One weight-for-age race that bears his name, a permanent memorial immortalising one of the country’s most famous racehorses has been unveiled at Ellerslie.
Bonecrusher, the 1985 New Zealand Derby winner and the first New Zealand racehorse to win more than $1 million in prize-money, has been remembered with a bronze statue placed above his final resting place. Bonecrusher died in 2015, aged 32.
The life-sized replica sees the champion racehorse in action and includes his famous shoulder scar and unique protruding tongue. Bonecrusher’s trainer Frank Ritchie was at the unveiling along with artist Michelle Farrell.
“This was the horse I made my name with, he was such a special horse and always had a twinkle in his eye,” Ritchie said. “As soon as he won his first race as a two-year-old here at Ellerslie, we knew he had a bright future.
“To see Bonecrusher immortalised like this stirs a lot of emotion and brings back a lot of great memories. It’s fantastic to see and I think Michelle and her team have done an incredible job.”
The statue was initially made of clay before being broken down into 26 pieces to be cast in bronze at a foundry in Onehunga. Although the cost of the statue is being kept under wraps by Bonecrusher’s owner Peter Mitchell and his family, the impressive result is a 15-month labour of love for the artist.
“I was first approached by Peter and his family to create a statue not long after Bonecrusher died," Farrell said. "We studied hundreds of photos and produced numerous drawings to ensure we could create a likeness that would be a fitting tribute.
“Work then started in September 2016 and the results are on show today. I was honoured to be commissioned to produce such a piece and hope I’ve done one of country’s most famous horses justice.”
The statue will have its first public appearance tomorrow when thousands of people file past and into the stands ahead of the Gr. 1 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup and Gr. 1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes.
Auckland Racing Club CEO Paul Wilcox says he expects the statue to get a good reception.
“The club is grateful to Peter and his family for allowing us to have such a wonderful horse rest in our grounds,” he said.
“The resulting statue is a beautiful piece of artwork that enhances the look of the course, reflects the great history of Auckland Racing Club and is a fitting tribute to the mighty athlete that was Bonecrusher.
“As well as impressing racegoers, I expect it will inspire the jockeys and trainers that are here on Saturday – and at future racedays - to create their own slice of history at Ellerslie. You never know what’s going to happen here. In 30 years' time we could be doing this all over again.”
Bonecrusher raced 44 times for 18 wins, five seconds and 12 thirds, and prize-money of
NZ$674,225 and A$1,679,495.