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Pat Smullen 'Refused To Bend'...
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Pat Smullen 'Refused To Bend' | Dermot Weld leads the tributes to the late jockey

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

22:23 16 Sep 2020

Following the passing of Pat Smullen on Tuesday evening, a host of horse racing luminaries dropped in to Off The Ball to pay tribute to the late great jockey.

Pat Smullen had fought a two and a half year battle with pancreatic cancer. In that time he raised millions to fund research into the disease.

One year to the day after the Pat Smullen Champions Race at the Curragh, he passed away.

Dermot Weld

Pat Smullen was a jockey for Dermot Weld for 20 years, stepping into the boots of Mick Kinane after he left Rosewell.

"Today has been a very emotional day. I was very proud of all the people today coming out at the curragh to see the funeral cortege go by.

"He was a fabulous individual, his loyalty and integrity speak volumes. that the sort of man he was, he was a wonderful human being, he was kind and generous.

"Pat did a lot of homework, study on the races so when he came into the parade ring, we didn't have much to say, he had a plan for every race.

"His real quality was his ability to get horses in the right position in a race. Irrespective of whether the race was being run too quick or too slow, he was able to get the horse into the right place to win the race.

"This nice quiet guy on the ground, when he got on a horse's back Pat was ruthless, he was a very tough opponent.

"He won the English 2000 Guineas for me on a horse for me called Refuse To Bend, which I think is a very appropriate name.

"When Pat was diagnosed with cancer that's what he did, he refused to bend.

"He fought so hard, Pat Smullen deserved to live longer for his wonderful wife and kids."

Fran Berry

Fran Berry and Pat Smullen were weight room coleagues, rivals and close friends.

"We didn't see eye to eye initially, we used to have a few run-ins. I'd get him going and there was a rivalry and then we just seemed to gel and we travelled a lot together.

"Pat moved up to Kilcullen and we travelled more together with Declan McDonogh and Kevin Manning. The four of us became firm friends over time.

"A really tough rivalry on the track, you couldn't make it up how you'd ride against each other, try to get rides off each other then travel racing together and laugh about it on the way home.

"It was a unique friendship, for the four of us, not just myself and Pat.

"He had to win every day, he just wanted to win and it came from where he started at. It was all or nothing when he left school to go riding and as he said numerous times in interviews 'it had to work!'

"Pat never took his foot off the pedal for fear that if he did things would drop away. He brought that to Roscommon on a Monday and Ballinrobe on a Tuesday and it was the same Pat Smullen as you got at Royal Ascot on a big day.

Davy Russell on Pat Smullen

Davy Russell was a friend of Pat Smullen who saw his dedication and commitment up close.

"I'm coming from a different side of it, back in the summer months there used to be a lot of mixed meetings.

"We'd be arriving at the races when the flat lads would be finishing up. Whether it was Ballinrobe or the Galway Festival or Royal Ascot, and it's not an easy thing for a jockey  to do, to give 100%  in a 2000 Guineas and then get into your car and drive three of four hours to ride up in Ballinrobe to ride in a bottom grade handicap.

"Pat knew the importance of that to those small trainers."


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Dermot Weld Irish Champions Weekend Leopardstown Pat Smullen The Curragh

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