Three-time champion jockey turned polar explorer Richard Dunwoody has been awarded an honorary degree (DUniv) by the University of Ulster, Ireland, in recognition of his contribution to equine sport.

In a glittering national hunt racing career the Belfast-born jockey rode 1,699 winners and since retirement has completed various expeditions including a 673 mile trek to the South Pole.

Addressing his fellow graduates on Tuesday, Dr Dunwoody said: “I am confident that you could not have chosen a more dynamic university in which to complete your education.

“A university that, I have no doubt, will soon achieve its vision of becoming the leading university for sport in Ireland. The new £20 million sports facility at Jordanstown is incredible”.

He added: “I’d like to dedicate this to my parents and in particular my number one mentor, my father George.”