'Pat was an incredible man, irreplaceable' - Aidan O'Brien on racing's big loss
Aidan O'Brien has expressed sentiments that have resounded throughout the international racing community in recent days by describing Pat Smullen as "irreplaceable".
The nine-time champion jockey, a brother-in-law of O'Brien, died in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin on Tuesday evening following his battle with pancreatic cancer. He is due to be buried on Friday near his home in Rhode in County Offaly following a private funeral mass at 2pm in St Peter's Church in the village.
Covid-19 restrictions mean that no more than 50 mourners are permitted to attend funerals in Ireland, but it will be streamed on Zoom.
Smullen's wife Frances Crowley, the former Classic-winning trainer, is a sister of O'Brien's wife Annemarie, still the only woman to be crowned champion trainer in Ireland.
"He was an incredible man, an irreplaceable person," O'Brien said of Smullen. "Pat had everything. He was a brilliant horseman, great jockey, but an unbelievably sincere and decent man. Incredibly genuine."
O’Brien added: "He looked after everyone and anything he told anybody was always for their own benefit for them to be better. There was never any angle with Pat, it was always just whatever he believed was the right thing."
Smullen became stable jockey for Dermot Weld when Mick Kinane moved to ride for O'Brien and Coolmore in 1999.
While he spent the majority of his glittering career riding against Ballydoyle horses, the master trainer hailed Smullen as a world-class jockey, highlighting his professionalism as his main strength.
O’Brien said: "He was a world-class rider, a professional in every way. Pat gave it all every day. That's the way he did everything in life. He gave it all to his work, his riding, his friends, his family. He never held back anything. It was total commitment. He's irreplaceable and we're all going to miss him.”
He added: "Pat always wanted to help the people that were coming after him, to fund new trials and tests. It was all to help the generations that are coming behind him. He gave 100 per cent to it. He was so good to people that most of us would know nothing about.
"He did things for people, advised them and helped them, whether they be inside or outside of racing. It was a one-in-a-lifetime chance to meet a man like him."
For those wishing to view Smullen's funeral on Zoom, the meeting ID is 6949803979. The passcode required to gain entry to the stream is 12345.