A LIFELONG horse racing fan became the proud owner of a life-size image of Tony McCoy in the week he was crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Ian Evans, 38, was enjoying a Christmas day out at Bangor-on-Dee racecourse followed by a festive feast at the nearby Royal Oak with friends and was delighted to find  Sports Personality contender Tony ‘AP’ McCoy was competing.

Once the final race had been won Ian went looking for a keepsake of the memorable day’s events and the ground’s secretary offered him a lifesize cardboard cut out of his hero.

Then, who should come round the corner but the man himself who generously offered to sign the photo.

Ian said: “He isn’t a big chatter but I wished him all the best for the competition on Sunday and he seemed to appreciate it.

“I’ve met him before on another trip to Bangor racecourse earlier in the year.

“I backed him in a race and won and he kindly signed my betting stub afterwards.

“I’ve already got that on display in my pub, I guess I’m accidentally starting a bit of a collection, but I’ll have to have a serious think about what I’m going to do with this new memento.”

Ian is landlord at the Golden Lion, on Tabor Hill, Coedpoeth, which has quite a reputation as a good horseracing pub.

He always has Channel 4 coverage playing on the big screen and many of his regulars are massive fans.

He said: “I’ve already had texts off people offering to buy the collage off me but to me it’s worth too much to put a price on it.

“And now he’s officially Sports Personality of the Year it’s quite a collectable.

“As long as I’ve got the pub I wouldn’t part with it, it’s got too much sentimental value now, it’s a real part of the place.

“AP got several of my votes and I was made up when he won.

“He’s an absolute legend and a champion jump jockey.

“My son Iwan enjoys watching AP race and he keeps standing next to the cut-out and measuring himself against it.

“I think he’d like to be a jockey too now!”

Ian was proud to air the BBC programme on Sunday and all his regulars came out in force to support the jockey star.

He added: “I’ve been landlord of the pub for three-and-a-half years now but business has been tough so this is a great boost on the run-up to Christmas.”