Pat Eddery, the legendary 11-time British flat champion jockey, has died at the age of 63, the racing manager for owner Prince Khalid Abdullah announced on Tuesday.
The Irish-born horseman won over 4,600 races before retiring in 2003. Among his haul of big race wins were four Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes and three Derbys, making him one of the greatest jockeys of all time.
“It is extremely sad news,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Juddmonte owner Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. “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.”
In total Eddery triumphed in 14 British Classics, including three Derbys aboard Grundy (1975), Golden Fleece (1982) and Quest For Fame (1990).
Eddery also made his mark in Hong Kong, winning two Hong Kong Derbies on Breathing Exercise in 1975 and Grand Duke in 1977 and taking the first Hong Kong Gold Cup on Observatory in 1979. All up, he rode 98 winners from eight short-term stints in Hong Kong between 1973-74 and 1994-95, while he also returned to Happy Valley for the inaugural International Jockeys’ Championship in 1998.
Perhaps his finest hour came aboard Dancing Brave in the 1986 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, when he made a late charge down the centre of the track to snatch a sensational victory against a glittering field.
His other Arc winners came aboard Detroit in 1980, Rainbow Quest (1985) and Trempolino (1987).
He achieved other memorable successes with Pebbles at the Breeders’ Cup and Silver Patriarch in the St Leger, which gave him his 4,000th win, in 1997.
Silver Patriarch was trained by John Dunlop who said: “Pat rode his first winner for me in 1973 at Bath and in all had nearly 400 winners for me.
“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.”
Dunlop added: “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.”
Carson, the five-time champion and a close friend and rival of Eddery, said: “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 to ever put a leg over a horse.
“He was a born rider and always did the right thing and got horses running for him.”
Pebbles’ trainer Clive Brittain recalled: “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 natural. Whatever happened in the race Pat would adjust to and I’ll miss him greatly.”
Tony McCoy, the 20-time champion jump jockey, tweeted: “Very sad news to hear of the passing of Pat Eddery, true genius in the saddle #legend.”
Another multiple flat champion, Johnny Murtagh, wrote: “Sad to hear the passing of legendary jockey Pat Eddery. Everybody looked up to him in the weigh room, real pro and a gentleman RIP.”
After retiring from the saddle Eddery took up training, sending out Hearts Of Fire to claim a Group One victory in Italy.
Jockeys held a minute’s silence in his honour before racing at Lingfield.