The banquet hall was dark as the diners finished their meals. It was the last night of the annual American Horse Publications Conference. A large curtain hung in the shadows, dark blue on either end, pure white in the center. A red glow began pulsing in the center of the white curtain. The curtain was drawn away to reveal a life-sized statue of Secretariat. The pulsing red light was his great heart — two times larger than that of a normal horse.
The sculpture is the work of farrier-turned-artist Nigel Fennell. The horse and jockey are posed as they appear in the iconic photo taken as Secretariat won the Belmont Stakes and jockey Ronnie Turncott looks over his shoulder in wonder.
But the pose and the size of the steel sculpture is only part of the wonder of the piece. It is made of over 4800 individually forged steel mosaics of horses and horse heads. The jocky pants are small mosaics of crouching jockeys in their riding pose. Fennell has spent over 1000 hours on the statue and expects to spend a few hundred more before it is complete. At the moment, his hands are holding the reins, but he will use casts of Ronnie Turcott’s hands to finish the work.
Fennell says he is still working on the piece. When it is finished in a few more (hundred?) hours, it will be up for sale. Here’s hoping it ends up at the Kentucky Horse Park, not far from where Big Red stood at stud.