Pat Eddery: Former champion jockey dies aged 63

Remembering champion jockey Eddery

Eleven-time Flat racing champion jockey Pat Eddery has died at the age of 63.

Eddery, who rode more than 4,600 winners and won 14 British classics in a 36-year career, is regarded as one of the greatest jockeys of all time.

Among his most famous victories were the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe of 1986 on Dancing Brave.

Ireland-born Eddery, who retired in 2003 and was awarded an OBE in 2005, had been suffering from ill health.

Only Sir Gordon Richards has ridden more winners in Britain than Eddery.

'A true genius in the saddle'

AP McCoy tweet
AP McCoy, 20-time champion jump jockey, paid tribute to Eddery

AP McCoy, 20-time champion jump jockey, described Eddery as a "true genius in the saddle".

Eddery's successes also include Derby wins aboard Grundy (1975), Golden Fleece (1982) and Quest For Fame (1990).

However, his performance aboard Dancing Brave in the 1986 Arc in one of the classiest fields assembled is widely regarded as one of the most memorable of his career. It was one of four Arc victories.

Other famous wins included those on Pebbles in the Breeders' Cup, Silver Patriarch in the St Leger - his 4,000th winner - and Zafonic in the 2000 Guineas.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Prince Khalid Abdullah, in whose silks Eddery had some of his greatest days, said: "It is extremely sad news.

"He spanned the greatest era for jockeys ever. Lester Piggott, Steve Cauthen, Willie Carson - all were exceptional yet Pat's ability was unquestioned."

'A tactician with huge personality'

Piggott, 80 and an 11-time flat racing champion jockey, described Eddery as "a natural horseman."

"Pat Eddery was as fierce an opponent on the racecourse as he was a loyal and dear friend off it," said the nine-time Derby winner.

"He was a natural horseman, he exuded class and always knew what to do in a race.

"The horses he was associated with speak for themselves, and I doubt you'd find a jockey with a sharper tactical brain or stronger in a finish. He was a huge personality in the weighing room, and wasn't slow to keep us all grounded with his wit and sense of humour. He will be sorely missed."

'Tough, cool and a fun guy'

Pat Eddery is hoisted aloft by his fellow jockeys after his final race in 2003
Pat Eddery after his final race in 2003

Eddery began a training career after his retirement, the highlight of which was a victory for Hearts Of Fire in a Group One race in Italy.

Former jockey Bruce Raymond described him as a "fun guy" and "ultra-competitive".

He said: "It's very sad. He'd been unwell for a long time. Everybody knows he was a great jockey.

"We travelled together. He was a good, fun guy and very generous.

"We used to play cards and have lots of fun. I can't imagine anyone being in his company and not enjoying it.

"He was blooming tough to ride against and cool. He would beat you in a photograph and laugh about it afterwards."

Analysis: Horse racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght

"For sports fans whose interest flourished in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, Pat Eddery was a constant source of racing success along with Willie Carson and Steve Cauthen.

"Famous for his precision-judgement and a strong, 'busy' style, in rhythm with his mounts, during a close finish, Eddery's best-known success was on the great Dancing Brave in an high-class Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 1986.

"I can still hear the commentator as they cut down their rivals late on: 'Here comes Dancing Brave, firing down the centre of the track.'"

Mick Fitzgerald tweet
Grand National winner Mick Fitzgerald praised Eddery's "genius"
Johnny Murtagh
Jockey and trainer Johnny Murtagh paid his respects