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Golden Memories Of Famous Newbridge, Co. Kildare Jockey, Pat
Ireland is famous in many spheres, but it is its people that make the Emerald Isle such a proud land. Amongst the many famous Irish people worthy of consideration for any Hall Of Fame incorporation, the world of horse racing was enriched by a Kildare jockey of Newbridge birth in 1952, the late Pat Eddery, who died on the 10th November 2015, aged 63.
Pat Eddery, the horseman and renowned champion jockey, was reputed to be a man of few words, but riding his horses he galloped to international stardom and fame. Off the track, the Irishman slowly drifted into alcoholism over many years, and in a moving tribute to her late dad, daughter Natasha wrote lines that could apply to thousands of sons and daughters whose parents suffered alcohol addiction –
“The last time I saw him face to face was when I brought him home from rehab and he drank straight away. I turned to him and said "dad if you choose to drink over health and family, I can't be part of that life for you. Sadly his addiction was too strong and he couldn't overcome it. My siblings and his close friends, did all we could to help him battle his illness, but we lost in the end. It has been so sad to witness his decline and my siblings and I knew that we would lose him to his demon drink.
But that said, I loved him so much and I had probably the best childhood anyone could ask for. I was so proud, and still am so proud, to be his daughter. He was an amazing jockey, father and husband, but in the end he was taken over by a terrible disease. I don't think of that man, the alcoholic, he wasn't my dad. My dad was kind, sweet, emotional and while he never said much, I know he loved us all very much.”
Quote by Natasha Eddery
Pat Eddery, OBE, managed to become an iconic Irish sports legend, but could not win his own race against alcohol. He rode a mighty 4,632 winners in British Flat Races and this historic feat was only exceeded by another famous jockey, Sir Gordon Richards. And this remarkable achievement from an Irish jockey, fighting his own personal demons, only serves to beg the question – without alcohol addiction, it is probable Pat Eddery would have been the Real Champion of All Champion Jockeys.
The Kildare jockey became a household name throughout the horse racing community and his journey to stardom began as an apprentice in the riding stables of Séamus McGrath in Ireland. The inevitable move to greater pastures made Pat Eddery an Irish emigrant jockey at just 14 years old, when he arrived at the English stables of Frenchie Nicholson, wary of his new surroundings and exploring a lonely pathway to greatness as a jockey, far away from his native home.
The maiden apprentice victory came on board ‘Alvaro’ at Epsom Downs on the 24th April 1969 and he followed that up with further winners at The Woking Handicap and The Timeform Gold Cup in 1969. Whilst still an apprentice jockey he won The Northumberland Plate in 1970 and The Goodwood Stakes in 1971 and he finished as Champion Jockey Of the Season also.
An early career highlight was becoming Champion Jockey in four consecutive seasons - 1974/’75/’76/’77 at the stables of Peter Walwyn. In the acclaimed ‘British Race Of The Century’ in 1975 another milestone victory, witnessed Pat Eddery on board ‘Grundy’ annexing The King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at the famed Ascot Racecourse.
Several years later legendary trainer, Vincent O’Brien, courted Pat Eddery, and took him to his famous Irish stables, Ballydoyle, near Fethard, Co. Tipperary. Again the winning vein of fortune was maintained and famous classic victories with ‘Kings Lake’ ‘Lomond’ ‘Golden Fleece’ ‘Assert’ and El Gran Senor’ are all written into racings history books.
The brilliant Irish-born rider amassed more than 4,600 winners in a glittering career, a total bettered only by Sir Gordon Richards in Britain. His tally included 14 domestic Classic triumphs and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe four times, most famously with Dancing Brave in 1986. In 1986 he took over from Greville Starkey as the rider of Dancing Brave. He partnered Dancing Brave to victory in the King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc Triomphe.
He subsequently became the retained jockey of the colt's owner, Khalid Abdullah. Major winners in the Abdullah colours, included Zafonic, Quest For Fame, Warning and Toulon. He was Champion Jockey a further seven times in eleven years, between 1986 and 1996.
Eddery also rode several major winners outside Europe, including Jupiter Island in the 1986 Japan Cup and Pebbles in the 1985 Breeders Cup in North America. He also won the Arlington Million on Tolomeo, and the Canadian International Stakes on French Glory, and the Breeders Cup Sprint, on Sheikh Albadou.
In 1990 he was the winner of the inaugural Lestert (Piggott) Award for Flat Jockey of the Year, which he again won in 1991 and 1996, sharing on the latter occasion with Italian jockey, Frank Dettori. He also received two Flat Jockey Special Recognition awards in 2002 and 2003.
Pat retired from the saddle at the end of the 2003 flat season and announced he was parting company with horse racing. However the temptation to return was burning away, and Pat Eddery took out a trainers license in July 2005, and set up a stable of 40 horses at Musk Hill Stud in Nether Winchendon, near Aylesbury.
His brother, Paul Eddery, was Assistant Trainer and his Racing Manager was Simon Double, who also co - founded Pat Eddery Racing, the racehorse syndication company, which provided the opportunity for people to own shares in racehorses. Eddery's first runner as a trainer was Perez, who finished second in an all-weather maiden race at Wolverhampton in December 2005. His first training success was with ‘Visionist’ in a handicap race at Kempton Park in April 2006.
His first winner on turf was the two-year-old filly ‘Cavort’ in a maiden 6 furlong race at Goodwood. His trainer career culminated with ‘Hearts Of Fire’ winning Italy's Group 1 Gran Criterium in 2009. He sent out his final runner in the week prior to his death.
Pat Eddery died on 10 November 2015, aged 63, at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, due to cardiac arrest after a long battle with alcoholism.
Major racing wins:
British Classic Race wins as a jockey:
2,000 Guineas (3); 1,000 Guineas (1); Epsom Derby (3); Epsom Oaks (3); St. Leger Stakes (4)
British Flat Racing Champion Jockey: 11 times
1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1996.
Famous Horses Associated With Pat Eddery Career:
Polygamy; Grundy; Scintillate; Detroite; Storm Bird; Kings Lake; Golden Fleece; Assert; Lomond; El Gran Senor; Rainbow Quest; Dancing Brave; Moon Madness; Warning; Zafonic; Quest For Fame; Toulon; Moonax; Bosra Sham; Lady Carla and Silver Patriarch.
100 Winners in one season: 1973 – 2001 (except 1982)
200 Winners in one season: 1990
Best ever season: 1990 – 209 wins
Prix de l’Arc triumphs: Detroit 1980; Rainbow Quest 1985; Dancing Brave 1986; Trempolino 1987
Newbridge Co. Kildare jockey, Pat Eddery, will similar to scores of many more famous Irish jockeys be inducted into many Hall Of Fame Galleries.
The All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery salutes, preserves and promotes Golden Memories of one of Ireland’s greatest ever jockeys. Thanks for the memories.
Scripted by Derry JF Doody,
@ All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery
on 28th December 2015