Legendary jockeys coming out of retirement for Smullen's good 1 year ago

Legendary jockeys coming out of retirement for Smullen's good

The horse-racing community is a small one. But that small community makes a mighty difference when called upon.

Pat Smullen is the man in need right now.

It was in March last year when the legendary Offaly jockey was diagnosed with cancer in its most vicious form. Pancreatic cancer, those dreaded words. Ever since, Smullen has been fighting the toughest battle of his life and he's met every round of it head on.

In many ways then, little has changed.

A nine-time Irish champion jockey in his day, the Rhode man was one of the most reliable, esteemed and successful flat jockeys over the course of a 20 year career. There was no stage too big, no ride too small as the master jock showed hunger, skill and desire aplenty regardless of whether it was the Irish derby or a run of the mill handicap in Naas.

In May 2019 he hung up the whip and brought the curtain down on medical advice to huge regret and sadness amongst a loyal flat following. Cue tributes and the re-telling of fond memories as his iconic days in the saddle came back into the spotlight.

It's hardly any surprise then, that as soon as the details of a Pat Smullen organised fundraiser, the Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland were announced, that a huge backing was to follow.

And that's when you find out about the loyalty of the horse racing community.

No sooner were they contacted regarding their availability as horse racing legends AP McCoy, Ruby Walsh, Joseph O'Brien, Paul Carberry and Charlie Swan were back in the saddle.

Photo credit: Caroline Norris.

The legends got back on the horse at Joseph O'Brien's yard in Piltown in South Kilkenny this week as they begin their preparations for the September 15 showpiece that will be ran in the Curragh at the end of a brilliant Sunday card that includes four Group One races.

Smullen himself had also planned to ride in the race, only for a health setback to rule him out but here's hoping that there will be a big following out next Sunday week to support a worthy cause.

Donations to Cancer Trials Ireland can be made here.