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'Everyone in the weighing room wanted to be like Pat Smullen'

Pat Smullen: died on Tuesday evening from pancreatic cancer
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On Tuesday evening Pat Smullen died in hospital from pancreatic cancer at the age of 43. Following the news of his death, many of racing's leading figures have paid tribute to the nine-time Irish champion jockey and 12-time European classic winner.


Smullen's friend and former weighing room colleague Johnny Murtagh was among those who handed out the highest of praise for his attitude on and off course.

Murtagh, now a Group 1-winning trainer, said: "It's very sad news and the world of racing really lost one of the true legends of the game. You can see the esteem he was held in by people across the world in their tributes to him. He's one of those special people.

"After our big win on Saturday at Leopardstown he texted me to say well done, he was a class act. Everyone in the weighing room wanted to be like Pat Smullen.

Pat Smullen: remembered fondly by former weighing room colleagues and all in the industry

"We knew what he was like in racing but through his fundraising efforts in recent times, I think the wider public got to see the man he was. Determined, mentally and physically strong.

"You couldn't intimidate him on the track. He had a great will to win, and that was every day. It wasn't just a Saturday, he was on his 'A' game every single day. Our thoughts are with his family."

Trainer John Oxx, who Smullen was second rider to in the late 1990s, said: "He was one of the top jockeys in Europe, but what put him apart from other people was that he was such a decent human being.

"He was a very straightforward, honourable person to deal with, an example and inspiration to other jockeys, particularly young riders. He was always very diligent and hardworking right from the early days.

"He was second jockey to me behind Johnny Murtagh in 1997 and 1998 – everyone could see then that he would be a champion jockey of the future.

"It's just such a shame that having worked so hard and moved himself up the ladder to the point where he was one of the most sought after jockeys in Europe that he's been struck down like this, when his career would have been at its height."

Hannah Smullen, daughter of the world-renowned jockey, paid a touching tribute on social media.

Cancer Trials Ireland remembered a great friend and benefactor of the leading research organisation.

British champion jockey Oisin Murphy expressed the positive impact Smullen had on Irish racing and the sport as a whole.

Neil Callan, Jessica Harrington and Kevin Blake highlighted what a class act Smullen was in and out of the saddle.

The president of Ireland extended his condolences to Smullen's family.

Gordon Elliott paid tribute to Smullen's talent and personality.

Former England footballer Michael Owen extended his condolences, as did trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam and jockey Andrea Atzeni.

 

You can see the esteem he was held in by people across the world in their tributes to him. He's one of those special people

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