Nine-time Irish champion jockey Pat Smullen has died at the age of just 43.
Smullen was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018 and despite undergoing treatment that was initially successful, suffered a relapse in recent months. He passed away in Dublin’s St Vincent’s Hospital on Tuesday evening.
The Irishman won some of the sport’s biggest races, including the 2016 Derby on Harzand, the 2,000 Guineas, on Refuse to Bend in 2003, and the Ascot Gold Cup in 2010 on Rite of Passage.
Many of Smullen’s biggest successes came in his homeland, where he won the Irish versions of the 1,000 Guineas and Derby twice each, the Irish Oaks once and the Irish St. Ledger a record four-times in a row on Vinnie Roe between 2001 and 2004. He also won Group 1 races in the US and France.
While battling his illness, Smullen raised huge sums of money for Cancer Trials Ireland and was hailed by those within the sport and beyond for his bravery in the face of the disease. A legends race on last year’s Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh, featuring the likes of Sir Anthony McCoy and Ruby Walsh raised over €2.5million for charity.
Voices from across the sport have rushed to pay tribute. Leading broadcaster Nick Luck wrote on Twitter: “I never saw courage like this – Pat Smullen was a truly special man.”
ITV Racing frontman Ed Chamberlain called Smullen a “brilliant jockey and a wonderful man”, adding: “Racing has lost a true great.”
Top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott wrote: “So sad to hear of Pat’s passing. One of the greatest jockeys we’ve ever seen and above all a true gentleman who I was fortunate enough to know. Condolences to Frances,Hannah,Paddy,Sarah and all his family. May he rest in peace.”