Kevin Prendergast pays tribute to "family friend" Martin Molony
Martin Molony, arguably the greatest dual-purpose rider in history and six-time champion jockey in Ireland, has died aged 91.
Kevin Prendergast was on Monday among those to pay heartfelt tribute to a "family friend" who won the Irish Grand National three times and enjoyed Cheltenham Gold Cup success in 1951 aboard Silver Fame.
Molony also won the Irish Oaks in 1947 on Desert Drive, the 1,000 Guineas in 1950 aboard Princess Trudy and the 2,000 Guineas in 1951 on Signal Box, demonstrating his ability to operate at the highest level under both codes.
Prendergast said: "The term 'legend' is bandied about a lot but Martin was a real legendary figure in Irish racing.
"He was a brilliant jockey and a great friend of our family. My father knew him very well and I'm saddened by news of his death.
"I hadn’t seen him for a few years but he was a gentleman and he will be sadly missed by a lot of people.
"He was very good on the Flat and he was excellent over jumps. I’d like to offer my condolences to his family."
Molony, who rode his first winner on Chitor at the Curragh on October 28, 1939, may have been operating at the peaks of his powers before Jim Dreaper was even born, however the trainer recalls his father Tom holding the rider in the highest regard.
'He was a legend of Irish racing'
Dreaper said: "I was born in 1951, just when Martin was dominating, so I didn’t get a chance to see him riding in the flesh, but my father always told me he was one of the real greats of his time.
"He was an exceptional talent, and not only did he win big races over jumps, but he was a hugely successful Flat jockey.
"It's important to put his achievements into context because, back in the 1940s and 1950s, it was difficult to even get to Britain, let alone go there and ride big winners.
"He was a legend of Irish racing and today is a very sad day."
Martin's brother, Tim, was also a successful jockey and the pair dominated the racing scene in Ireland and Britain between them for the best part of ten years.
Tim, who died in 1989, was champion jump jockey in Britain five times, and the brothers' achievements were immortalised in 2014 with the undertaking of two bronze statues at Limerick, their local racecourse.
Funeral details will be known shortly.
ONE OF THE RIDING GREATS
Full name Martin John Molony
Born Rathmore House, Kilmallock, County Limerick, July 20, 1925
Apprenticed to Martin Hartigan, George Harris, Ginger Wellesley, Cyril Harty
First winner Chitor, Curragh, October 28, 1939
First winner over jumps Shirley Lad, Leopardstown, December 26, 1941
Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Silver Fame (1951)
Classic winners Desert Drive (1947 Irish Oaks), Princess Trudy (1950 Irish 1,000 Guineas), Signal Box (1951 Irish 2,000 Guineas)
Irish Grand National winners Knight’s Crest (1944), Golden View (1946), Dominick’s Bar (1950)
Other Cheltenham Festival winners Silver Fame (1948 Seven Springs Chase, 1950 NH Handicap Chase), Tsaoko (1950 Gloucestershire Hurdle, Div 1), E.S.B. (1950 NH Juvenile Chase), River Trout (1950 Cathcart Chase)
Other big-race winners Cloncarrig (1947 Leopardstown Chase), Abadan (1949 Phoenix Plate), Hatton’s Grace (1949 & 1950 Irish Cesarewitch), Stormhead (1951 Leopardstown Chase), Wye Fly (1951 Galway Hurdle)
Placed mount in the Derby Signal Box (3rd in 1951)
Champion jockey in Ireland (Flat/jumps combined) 6 times: 1946 (joint), 1947 to 1951
Most wins in a year in Ireland 116 (1950)
Last winner External Relations, Thurles, September 18, 1951
Last mount Bursary (fell), Thurles, September 18, 1951
Compiled by John Randall