Pat Eddery has been described as ‘one of the greatest’ as racing was left mourning the death of the 11 times champion jockey, who died at the age of 63 this week, write Sam Murley and Alison Hayes.
Born in Newbridge, Co Clare, Eddery, who was married in Newmarket, amassed an incredible 4,632 British Flat races victories, including 14 Classics, was champion Flat jockey 11 times between 1974 and 1996 as well as riding 11 Classic winners in Ireland and five in France, before retiring in 2003.
His illustrious career spanned the greatest era for jockeys ever with the likes of Lester Piggott, Steve Cauthen and Willie Carson, with Eddery rightly considered among the greats having ridden some of the best racehorses of the late 20th century including Dancing Brave, El Gran Senor, Grundy Bosra Sham and Pebbles.
The latter gifted Eddery one of his standout victories, winning the Breeders Cup for Clive Brittain of the Carlburg Stables, with the Newmarket-based trainer leading the tributes to his good friend.
“The news has come as a great shock,” said Brittain, who is in no doubt about the legacy Eddery will leave behind.
“I was blessed with a lot of great jockeys, but none were better than Pat. He was just such a natural and horses just ran for him.
“You don’t become an 11-times champion without being exceptional, and I’m no in no doubt that he will always be associated among the best of the best to have ever ridden.
“Every time he rode for me you knew you were watching something truly exceptional. He will always be one of the greatest.”
That statement is reinforced by Eddery’s victory aboard Dancing Brave in the 1986 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in one of the classiest fields assembled which is widely regarded as one of the most memorable of his career. Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Prince Khalid Abdullah, owner of Newmarket’s Banstead Manor Stud in whose silks Eddery sealed his success aboard Dancing Brave, added: “It is extremely sad news. Everyone at Juddmonte is very shocked and saddened by it.
“He spanned the greatest era for jockeys ever. Lester Piggott, Steve Cauthen, Willie Carson, all were exceptional, yet Pat’s ability was unquestioned.”
Meanwhile, the professional Jockeys Association paid their own tribute to Eddery.
“Pat was a truly great Jockey in every way. He was the man we all aspired to be in the saddle. Everyone looked up to him in the weighing room. Just a great person to be around. A professional’s professional,” said Steve Drowne, Joint President of theAssociation.
“He was the model for all to aspire to,” added Executive Director and former jockey Dale Gibson.
“Condolences to family and friends from us all in the weighing room past and present. RIP Pat.”