Pat Eddery

Eddery and Dancing Brave

Eddery and Dancing Brave

Yesterday brought the sad news of the death of Patrick James John Eddery at the age of 63.

Born in Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland on 18 March 1952, Pat Eddery became one of the greatest flat racing jockeys of all time. In a riding career that spanned 36 years, he became champion jockey 11 times and won every ‘Classic’ in both England and Ireland.

Eddery also found success overseas with major victories in France, America, Italy and Japan. He rode some of the sport’s greatest racehorses, winning the Derby on Grundy and Golden Fleece, the 2,000 Guineas on El Gran Senor and Zafonic, and of course the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Dancing Brave.

Born to ride, his father Jimmy had won the Irish Derby in 1955, and Pat became an apprentice jockey to Seamus McGrath in Ireland back in 1966. His first competitive ride came in 1967, and the same year he was to move to England becoming apprentice to Frenchie Nicholson. In 1971 he won the title of Champion Apprentice Jockey.

He won his first jockey’s title in 1974 and the following year won his first Epsom Derby on Grundy. He formed a stunning partnership with Peter Walwyn’s powerful colt, winning eight times in 11 career starts. As a two-year-old Eddery rode him to victories in the Champagne Stakes and the Dewhurst. He met with defeat in the 2,000 Guineas but made amends in the Irish 2,000 Guineas before attention turned to the Derby. At Epsom he stormed to the front over a furlong out under a stylish drive from Eddery. The result was never in doubt.

The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes proved to be Grundy’s most memorable performance. In a race that for many is seen as one of the all-time greats, Eddery and his Derby winner met Bustino, the winner of the previous season’s St Leger. Joe Mercer rode an aggressive race, sending Bustino to the front before turning for home. Eddery was quick to react and a thrilling battle ensued.

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Grundy got on top late on under a power-packed ride. The course record was shattered, as were the two protagonists. Walwyn’s charge ran just once more before being retired to stud. Bustino never raced again.

If his partnership with Grundy was special, many would view his rides on Dancing Brave to be his most thrilling. Ridden earlier in his career by Greville Starkey, the colt had missed out in the Derby by a whisker before a stunning victory in the Eclipse. When Starkey was unable to ride in the King George, Pat Eddery stepped in. He reversed the Derby form with Shahrastani in a thrilling finish and Eddery was retained for the remainder of the season.

It was the colt’s final European appearance that defined Pat Eddery’s career. In one of the strongest fields ever assembled the jockey swooped late and wide to win in thrilling style. Brough Scott writing in the Racing Post commented on Eddery’s memorable ride, saying: “He produced the finest high pressure waiting race ride I have ever seen when he actually put Dancing Brave back in behind the field before pulling out wide to mow down a string of Classic winners in the unforgettable Arc de Triomphe of 1986.”

Others, far better qualified than me, have paid tribute to the great jockey over the past 24 hours. Lester Piggott spoke of his old rival, saying: “Pat was as fierce an opponent on the racecourse as he was a loyal and dear friend off it. He was a natural horseman. He exuded class and always knew what to do in a race. 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.”

Another who fought many a battle with Eddery during his illustrious career was Willie Carson. He said: “It's a very sad loss. He was a huge part of my life because we were together and friends for a very long time. An absolute gentleman, one of the greatest jockeys ever to ride a horse and you could go on forever about all the great horses he rode.”

Trainer John Dunlop described Pat Eddery as a ‘delightful man’. He added: “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. 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.”

Clive Brittain trained Pebbles and used Eddery when he was an up-and-coming apprentice. “It's a sorry day. He was a great friend and an integral part of my success at Carlburg. He was at the top of the tree for so long, but he was a green kid when I first started using him. You always got 100 per cent from Pat, be it in a Classic or a Brighton seller. I never used to discuss tactics with him really and I certainly didn't with Pebbles. She was drawn 14 at the Breeders' Cup and it was all people were talking about. Pat just said 'it's a race, the best horse will win' and she did. He never panicked and gave her a brilliant ride. He was just so confident in everything he did."

Guy Harwood trained Dancing Brave, and believes Eddery was at the peak of his powers when he won the Arc. “Clearly that was a very exciting day when he won the Arc de Triomphe. It was a fantastic ride. It was Pat at his very best and probably one of his great rides, amongst many. Pat knew how to use the speed Dancing Brave had and the best way in the Arc was to come from behind. He had tremendous natural talent.”

Haydock’s Betfred Sprint Cup – Memories of Devastating Dayjur

Dayjur jumps the shadow

Dayjur jumps the shadow

Though best known for his luckless defeat in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint of 1990, Dayjur was arguably the greatest sprinter of them all.

Devastatingly quick, the colt by Danzig was out of an American champion sprinter Gold Beauty. Bought as a yearling for $1.65m by Hamdan Al-Maktoum, he was sent to England to be trained by Major Dick Hern at his West Ilsley stables in Berkshire.

He showed promise as a juvenile, but it was his three-year-old campaign that cemented his status as one of the fastest horses of all time. Totally dominant during the summer of 1990, he collected every sprint prize worth winning, and in doing so turned competitive high-class events into stunning one-horse processions.

Yet his early outings in the spring gave little sign of the performances that were to follow. Disappointing in a Guineas trial at Newmarket, he was next dropped in trip for a victory in a minor race at Nottingham. He then suffered another defeat when losing by a head at Newbury.

His next run came in the Temple Stakes, which in those days was run at Sandown Park. A change of tactics was employed, with regular pilot Willie Carson sending the colt to the front, allowing him to make the most of his inherent speed. Dayjur never looked in danger, as he stormed to a comfortable two length success.

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In June he was sent to Royal Ascot for a crack at the five furlong King's Stand Stakes; then a Group 2 contest. With concerns over the rain softened ground few could have anticipated such a one-sided renewal. Dayjur led virtually from pillar to post, drawing clear in stunning fashion to beat the French challenger Ron's Victory by two and a half lengths. The rest of the field failed to land a blow.

After his Ascot romp he was sent off an odds-on favourite for the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York. Again sent to the front from the stalls, the result never looked in doubt. Carson pushed him clear in the closing stages to win by four lengths in a course record time of 56.16. It was another devastating performance from a colt at the height of his powers.

In September, Dayjur was stepped up to six furlongs for the Ladbroke Sprint Cup at Haydock. Despite being an odds-on shot, this looked to be a tougher test with a field that included the July Cup winner Royal Academy and the Prix Maurice de Gheest winner Dead Certain. Tactics remained the same and Dayjur stormed clear inside the final two furlongs. Royal Academy closed late on but never looked like catching the favourite. Carson said after the win: “I didn’t ask him to go flat out all the way. I was taking things a bit easy.”

Dayjur travelled to France in October for the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp. Few opposed him on his final European start and he again dominated from the front. The only slight concern was a tendency to lose his action when encountering shadows across the track. Little was thought of the matter as he was prepared for his final contest in the Breeders’ Cup at Belmont Park.

That final contest proved to be one of the most dramatic. From a wide draw Dayjur was quickly sent to contest the lead, and for much of the race ran side by side with the American filly Safely Kept. The two fought out a thrilling battle down the home straight, and nearing the post Dayjur appeared to have gained the upper-hand. However with victory in his grasp he jumped a dark shadow cast over the track and a second at the line, handing victory to the filly.

Sheikh Hamdan Al-Maktoum retired the colt to his Shadwell Racing farm in Kentucky. He died in September 2013, with Shadwell Vice President Rick Nichols saying of him: “Dayjur was one great racehorse giving all of us at Shadwell many great thrills. He was the cornerstone of our stallion operation, and he was a wonderful horse to be around. He will be deeply missed.”

This weekend’s Sprint Cup at Haydock may well see those famous silks carried to victory again. Adaay is fancied to build on his Hungerford Stakes success at this shorter trip. He won at the track back in May when impressive in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes. Hamdan Al Maktoum has a handful of speed merchants under his ownership, including the summer’s leading sprinter Muhaarar. It would come as no surprise to see him take yet another coveted prize.

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