There has been some fun and games in the last 24 hours regarding the statue of a prancing horse that is to be found at a small Irish town called Horseleap, which is located slap-bang in the middle of Ireland, on the border between the counties of Offaly and West Meath. This was once on the main Dublin-Galway road, but was bypassed recently when the new M6 motorway was opened. The excitement has been created because of the suggestion that the 12 foot high bronze statue that stands on the village green was actually made by Ferrari and ended up in Ireland by some curious twists of Fate. I was alerted to the story by my friends at www.grandprixdiary.com and decided to investigate.
The urban legend is that Ferrari traditionally presents such a statue to each of its drivers and that in 1999 one of these was created for Eddie Irvine. The story goes that it was shipped to Northern Ireland, as a surprise gift for Irvine but was not given to him after he decided to join Jaguar Racing for 2000. It was then stored in a barn in County Tyrone, which is to the west of Belfast and nowhere near Irvine’s home town on the east coast in County Down. A local farmer from Horseleap, visiting Tyrone to buy cattle, was told about it and a deal was struck with Ferrari for the statue to be sold to the village.
Ferrari’s reaction to this story is as follows: “We do not know anything about it…” and when asked whether there was a tradition of giving statues to drivers, replied “for sure, not for the last 20 years”.
So, an urban myth it is. Still, it will give people a reason to stop off at Horseleap, if they happen to be going from Dublin to Galway, which may help the local businesses, which are probably suffering from no longer being on the main road…