Pat Eddery dead: ‘A natural horseman, Pat just exuded class,' says Lester Piggott

11-time Champion Jockey Pat Eddery died on Tuesday at the age of 63

11-time Champion Jockey Pat Eddery died at the age of 63
11-time Champion Jockey Pat Eddery died at the age of 63

Lester Piggott led the many warm tributes to Pat Eddery, the 11-time Champion Jockey and the winner of 14 English Classics, who died yesterday, aged 63. He had been suffering from ill health.

Along with Piggott, Willie Carson and Steve Cauthen, Eddery dominated the championship in the 1970s and 1980s, winning the first of his titles in 1974.

The Irishman was still at the top for much of the 1990s, until Frankie Dettori and Kieren Fallon came along, matching Piggott’s record when crowned champion for the final time in 1996.

“Pat Eddery was as fierce an opponent on the racecourse as he was a loyal and dear friend off it,” said Piggott. “He was a natural horseman, he exuded class and he always knew what to do in a race. I doubt you’d find a jockey with a sharper tactical brain or stronger in a finish. He will be sorely missed.”

Carson added: “Part of my life has gone because I knew Pat for a very long time. He was an absolute gentleman and one of the greatest jockeys ever to put a leg over a horse. He was a born rider. It’s very sad news.”

The same respect and affection was repeated across the racing industry via social media from champion jockeys, past and present, under both codes. Johnny Murtagh said: “Everybody looked up to him in the weighing room, a real pro and a gentleman. RIP.” Pat Smullen called Eddery “an absolute legend, both as a jockey and a man”.

Former champion jumps jockey Jonjo O’Neill also paid tribute to “a true legend of the sport,” while Tony McCoy, who retired this year after landing his 20th title, referred to the man who rode more British Flat winners (4,632) than anyone apart from Sir Gordon Richards as “a true genius in the saddle”.

Eddery was a big hit in England from when a young apprentice in the late 1960s right through to his retirement at the end of 2003, but will be remembered most for the magnificent moments he shared with some of the great horses of the age in many of the greatest races.

He won the Derby three times, aboard Grundy (1975), Golden Fleece (1982) and Quest For Fame (1990), and he again rode the first-named to a narrow triumph in what many regard as one of the races of the 20th century, the thrilling set-to with Bustino in the King George VI, Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Eddery also won the King George on Dancing Brave in 1986, but perhaps the most famous victory of his career was riding the same horse in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later the same year when he produced the colt, not even in the first 10 entering the last furlong, with a perfectly timed run on the outside of the field to beat a vintage field going away.

Dancing Brave was the middle leg of three Arc victories in a row for the jockey; his record total of four is shared with six others, including Dettori.

Eddery had also partnered Clive Brittain’s brilliant filly Pebbles to win the Champion Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Turf in 1985.

The recently retired Brittain recalled: “Every horse he rode he gave 100 per cent. He was ice cool in any situation and nothing bugged him. There was nobody stronger and as a tactician he was out on his own. You didn’t instruct Pat – he was a natural.”

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