Pat Smullen: A giant of a man on and off the racecourse

Epsom Racecourse

The racing world is filled with sadness and devastation at the news that nine-time Irish champion Flat jockey Pat Smullen has lost his fighting battle with cancer at the very young age of 43.

He was surrounded by close family at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin and had to endure an agonising battle with pancreatic cancer since he was first diagnosed with the illness in March of 2018.

The masterful County Offaly native won 12 Classics in his wonderful career, with success in the 2016 Epsom Derby aboard Harzand arguably his greatest achievement for his boss Dermot Weld in the famous Aga Khan silks.

He was a remarkable man on the racecourse but he was just as remarkable off it. Whilst battling his illness, he organised a Legends Race at the 2019 Irish Champions Weekend which raised €2.5 million for Cancer Trials Ireland.

His boss Dermot Weld was quoted saying: “He was a very principled man, he was a family man and his loyalty and integrity were an example to anybody within the sport.”

Tributes for the great man

Oisín Murphy: “God rest you. What you meant to the people most close to you and the people of Ireland. Not to mind the rest of the world. A truly fitting statement. Thoughts with your family and friends.”

President Higgins: “President Higgins has expressed his deep sadness at the untimely death of champion jockey Pat Smullen, saying his remarkable performances at home and abroad brought joy to so many. The President conveys his sincere condolences to his family, wife and children.”

Neil Callan: “I have not felt this sad in a very long time! Sleep well my good friend. There are too many words to describe how good a man you are, you will never be forgotten.”

Jessica Harrington: “Rest in peace Pat a true gentleman and an inspirational person sleep well. Thoughts and prayers with the whole family and friends.”

Kevin Blake: “Floored by this. A world-class jockey, but more importantly a world-class man. The selflessness and bravery he showed during his illness was remarkable and inspired so many. So sorry for Frances, his children Hannah, Paddy, Sarah and all his family/friends. RIP Pat.”

Gordon Elliott: “So sad to hear of Pats passing. One of the greatest jockeys we’ve ever seen and above all a true gentleman who I was fortunate enough to know. Condolences to Frances,Hannah,Paddy,Sarah and all his family. May he rest in peace.”

Jonjo O’Neill: “Truly heartbreaking news about Pat Smullen. He was great jockey and even better man. My thoughts are with his family at this time.”

Peter Chapple-Hyam: “Heartbroken to hear the passing of Pat Smullen, he was a gent, we had fun together especially on Sundays in Hong Kong, off to Stanley for the day what a laugh. My condolences to Frances and their family, I couldn’t be as brave or as strong as Pat, see you pal.”

Andrea Atzeni: “R.I.P Champ.”

There are some people who grace the earth with a light so great that even after they have gone the light remains as powerful as ever and Pat Smullen is one of those people.

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