Legendary late jockey Pat Eddery, known as ‘God’ by his fellow
jockeys, has been inducted into the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame,
writes Paul Martin.
Born less than two miles from the Curragh in Newbridge, Eddery – who passed away aged 63 in November 2015 – went on to become an 11-time British Champion Jockey and racked up more than 6,000 winners in a glittering career.
His Classic victories included four Irish Derby triumphs, the first of which came in 1975 aboard Grundy as he followed in the footsteps of his father Jimmy, who had taken the spoils two decades earlier.
1975 was a memorable year for Eddery and Grundy, who also teamed up to win an epic King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot following a titanic tussle with Bustino in what would later become known as ‘The Race of the Century’.
In all, Eddery landed 14 British Classics and 13 in Ireland, while his tally of 4,632 British winners – which included 209 in 1990 – is second only to Sir Gordon Richards.
His daughter Natasha Eddery-Dunsdon, a competing showjumper, said: “He was, and always will be, one of the all-time greats.
“When I think about what he was like as a jockey, I think about his quiet concentration, his focus, the determination to win.
“That’s what set him apart, his desire to win and to beat his comrades - winning was everything to him, second best just wasn’t an option.
“He had the best hands of any jockey, he was a kind rider, intuitive, he just connected with horses. If he were riding a puller, he’d simply give the horse the rein and drop his hands on the neck.
“I’ve personally tried this and I always get run away with - but they never did that with dad, they just stayed totally relaxed.
“Entering the Hall of Fame would have made him so proud; I only wish he were still here to experience this special moment. It’s one myself and my family will cherish.”
Frankie Dettori added: “We used to call him ‘God’ because he was like God.”
And nowhere was that divine talent shown more clearly than on board Dancing Brave, with whom Eddery won the third of four Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes in 1986.
Eddery timed his late charge to perfection and swept home from nowhere three furlongs out to come home in a track record which thrilled those watching on course and around the world.
Trainer Clive Brittain, who became the first British trainer to land the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Japan Cup thanks to rides by Eddery on Pebbles and Jupiter Island respectively, said: “You got exactly what you paid for with Pat.
“He gave every horse a professional ride. He’d give good feedback too; he was good at assessing the horse’s distance, ground conditions – he covered it all. He was worth every penny.
“You never gave Pat orders – you just told him what the horse was like and left the rest to him. You couldn’t pin him down to instructions before a race. Horses were always willing to run for Pat.
“When he rode for you, you got everything you’d want from a jockey. Everything he did on the horse’s back came so naturally to him.”
Four-time Champion Trainer Richard Hannon Sr., who Eddery rode for many years, said: “I’m sure Pat would have loved to have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“He was a very good jockey, he was very good with horses and he had a great memory of them too. If he rode one 18 months before, he’d know exactly all about the horse. He had a great brain.
“You didn’t have to tell Pat anything really. He just went out and did his job. As a trainer you do the job to ensure the horse is fit and everything is fine, but he used to go out and do his own thing, however the race worked out.
“That makes a jockey for me - if the race doesn’t go right for you, you think of another way round it.”
In recognition of Eddery’s posthumous induction into the QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame and to mark his achievement, his family will be presented with a specially commissioned medal.
This medal will be displayed as part of a special Hall of Fame exhibition at QIPCO British Champions Day, which takes place at Ascot Racecourse on Saturday 16th October.