Dermot Weld remembers ‘very, very special man’ in Pat Smullen

Dermot Weld highlighted Pat Smullen’s loyalty and integrity in paying tribute to the man who was his stable jockey for the best part of 20 years.

The pair enjoyed untold success all over the world, winning the 2016 Derby at Epsom with Harzand, teaming up for several major Royal Ascot winners and having several fruitful trips to America.

Following his retirement, Smullen, who died on Tuesday evening at the age of 43 after a long battle against pancreatic cancer, arranged a legends race with the aim of raising money for cancer research.

Dermot Weld (left) with Pat Smullen and Harzand after winning the 2006 Irish Derby
Dermot Weld (left) with Pat Smullen and Harzand after winning the 2006 Irish Derby at (Pat Healy/PA)

Names such as Sir Anthony McCoy, Ruby Walsh, Charlie Swan and Kieren Fallon were involved, as over €2.5m was raised.

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“Pat Smullen was just a very, very special man, with regards to the sport of horse racing and indeed to me personally. He was unique,” said Weld, speaking on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.

“In this day and age I would have to say his loyalty and his integrity stood out. He was my stable jockey for 20 years and was just the professionals’ professional.

“His detail and his determination were major factors, as was his bravery. He was a very principled man, he was a family man and his loyalty and integrity were an example to anybody within the sport.

Pat Smullen with Lester Piggott and Mick Kinane
Pat Smullen with Lester Piggott and Mick Kinane (right)

“I only had two retained jockeys, Michael Kinane for about 13 years and Pat for about 20. We just built together, but he was simply an excellent jockey.”

Highlighting some of their biggest successes together Weld went on: “You saw in England wonderful rides like on Rite Of Passage, two spectacular rides at Ascot.

“It is worth noting, from the limited chances he got at Ascot, rides like winning the Gold Cup on Rite Of Passage when he set the track record, Fascinating Rock in the Champion Stakes, Free Eagle in the Prince of Wales’s and on a horse called In Time’s Eye when he got the better of a great duel with Pat Eddery going way back to the early days (Wolferton, 2003).

“He won the English 2000 Guineas on Refuse To Bend and I think that typified the man. Right to the end when he was fighting pancreatic cancer he had this will to win, this belief, determination and he was able to impart that to the horses he rode.

“After he won the Epsom Derby (on Harzand in 2016) – and he so deserved to ride the winner of an Epsom Derby – the amount of public support, I can even use the word love at his achievement, was amazing. People not even connected to the sport sent him congratulations.

“It was the same right around the world. He won the Matriarch Stakes (Dress To Thrill 2002) one day for me and the respect the American jockeys had for him was very special. He was a leader in his own profession.

“He led by example, I think that is the best way I can describe him.”

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