Tributes pour in for champion jockey Pat Eddery

Following his death at 63, Pat Eddery has been hailed as one of racing's greatest-ever jockeys. Picture: Getty
Following his death at 63, Pat Eddery has been hailed as one of racing's greatest-ever jockeys. Picture: Getty
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John Dunlop yesterday described Pat Eddery as a “delightful man” following his death at the age of 63.

Eddery was champion jockey 11 times during a career which spanned over 35 years and saw him compete against some of the most celebrated names in racing.

Lester Piggott, Steve Cauthen and Willie Carson were amongst his contemporaries in the weighing room along with the likes of Frankie Dettori and Kieren Fallon in his later years, yet Eddery trails only Sir Gordon Richards on the list of all-time winners.

He partnered over 4,600 domestic winners, with his 4,000th success coming aboard the Dunlop-trained Silver Patriarch in the St Leger at Doncaster in 1997.

“Pat rode his first winner for me in 1973 at Bath and in all had nearly 400 winners for me,” said Dunlop.

“I was lucky to be training in a vintage era of jockeys and the fact Pat rode for me on and off for 30 years tells you everything.

“He was a delightful man to spend time with, he had huge success but was great company at the same time. Above all, he just worked harder than the others I think.

“Silver Patriarch was special. To come back from being beaten a nose in the Derby and win the St Leger, and for it to be his 4,000th winner made it a very memorable day. I’m so sorry to hear the news.”

One of Eddery’s closest friends in the weighing room, and with whom he had some of his greatest battles on the track, was Carson.

He told At The Races: “It’s a very sad loss. He was a huge part of my life because we were together and friends for a very long time.

“An absolute gentleman, one of the greatest jockeys ever to ride a horse and you could go on forever about all the great horses he rode, but he always told me it [the best] was Golden Fleece, especially in the Derby.

“He was liked by everyone. He was a gentleman, a nice person to have a night out with and I spent lots of time with him. Part of my life has gone as well.

“When he retired, he hit a problem because racing had been his life – all he ever wanted to be was a jockey.

“He tried the breeding game which didn’t work, he never settled into retirement.

“He’s gone at an early age – 63 is no age at all – and he’ll be sadly missed. It will be a great loss to the industry because simply he was one of the greatest ever.

“Pat always had the knack. When he was on a horse, he always did the right thing and got horses running for him.”

Another weighing-room colleague was George Duffield, who remembered his “fantastic” skill as a youngster.

“It’s a sad day to lose someone as talented as him at such a young age as 63,” he said. “I remember him starting. He was just fantastic as a kid. He had so much confidence and was so bullish about everything he did. He was so special from day one, which put him apart from everyone else.

“My best day was actually beating him in the Eclipse. It was a massive feather in my cap to beat someone as talented as he was when I rode Giant’s Causeway.

“He had that fantastic talent where horses wanted to go faster for him more than anyone else.

“People like him come along every 20, 25 years.

“The main thing about Pat was he never changed. From the day he started to the day he finished he was the same old Pat, day in, day out.

“All the success he had never went to his head. He was just one fantastic guy, a star man.”

Eddery’s achievements put him on record as one of the greatest jockeys of all time.

He won 14 British Classics, including three Derbys aboard Grundy (1975), Golden Fleece (1982) and Quest For Fame (1990).

However, his performance aboard Dancing Brave in the 1986 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is widely regarded as one of the most memorable of his career.

In one of the classiest fields ever assembled, Eddery made his challenge last, down the centre of the track, to snatch victory.

Eddery, who had been suffering from ill health of late, began a training career following his retirement, with the highlight being the victory of Hearts Of Fire in a Group One in Italy.

Clive Brittain trained Pebbles and used Eddery when he was an up-and-coming apprentice.

“It’s a sorry day. He was a great friend and an integral part of my success at Carlburg,” said Brittain.

“He was at the top of the tree for so long, but he was a green kid when I first started using him.

“You always got 100 per cent from Pat, be it in a Classic or a Brighton seller.

“I never used to discuss tactics with him really and I certainly didn’t with Pebbles. She was drawn 14 at the Breeders’ Cup and it was all people were talking about.

“Pat just said ‘it’s a race, the best horse will win’ and she did. He never panicked and gave her a brilliant ride. He was just so confident in everything he did. He made so few mistakes, like Ryan Moore today, and that’s what sets the best apart from the others.

“He came to me as an apprentice on the advice of Frenchie Nicholson and he ended up riding my three biggest winners.”

Dancing Brave was trained by Guy Harwood for whom Eddery rode many big-race winners when he was retained by Khalid Abdullah.

Harwood believes Eddery was at his best when he won the Arc on Dancing Brave.

“Clearly that was a very exciting day when he won the Arc de Triomphe,” he told At The Races.

“It was a fantastic ride. It was Pat at his very best and probably one of his great rides, amongst many.

“Pat knew how to use the speed Dancing Brave had and the best way in the Arc was to come from behind.

“He had tremendous natural talent. The great jockeys are hugely talented people.

“The difference between the average journeyman jockey who works really hard and the top jockeys is talent. They all ride well, it’s the racing brain they have that sets them apart.”

When Harwood retired, his daughter Amanda Perrett took over at Pulborough and she found Eddery a big help as she set out on her training career.

Perrett said: “Dad held him in the highest esteem. He was one of the greatest jockeys of all time.

“His win on Dancing Brave in the Arc was a truly phenomenal ride.

“From my point of view, Pat was instrumental in helping us when I took over from dad and he rode a Group One winner for me in Indian Lodge in the Foret.

“Pat and dad were a great combination when he was riding for Prince Khalid. It was a sad day when he stopped riding. He was a wonderful horseman and a great friend to us throughout his riding career.”