Racing legend Pat Eddery has been awarded an honorary OBE in recognition to his “services to racing”. Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell MP conferred him the honour during a ceremony at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on Tuesday 8 March.

“The award of an honorary OBE acknowledges an extraordinary sporting career, in which Pat broke numerous records time and time again, thrilling racegoers and rewarding owners and trainers over five decades,” said Jowell. “One of the most naturally gifted horsemen of his generation, he has been a superb ambassador not only to horse racing, but sport in general.”

The OBE coronates Eddery’s long and successful career. The Irish-born champion, who retired in 2003, landed more than 4,000 wins during some 35 years in the saddle. He was only 16 years old when he bagged his first victory on Alvaro in April 1969. Eddery went on to ride three Derby winners (Grundy, Golden Fleece and Quest For Fame), 14 English Classic winners and a staggering 73 winners at Royal Ascot.

Unsurprisingly, he collected 11 champion jockey titles to become Britain’s second most successful jockey after Sir Gordon Richards. And yet Eddery was ready to credit his successes to the horses he rode during his long career.

“I have been fortunate enough to have ridden all around the world for some truly great owners and trainers, but where would any of us have been without the horses?” he said at the award ceremony. “From the Dancing Braves to the lowliest sellers winning at Bath, I owe them so much.”

Eddery is still involved in the sport of kings through the Pat Eddery Racing syndicate, which he runs with his wife, Carolyn.