‘An outstanding human being’ — racing industry honours nine-time champion jockey diagnosed with pancreatic cancer

An emotional tribute was paid to jockey Pat Smullen as he collected the Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit for 2019 at a glittering ceremony in London on Tuesday night (12 November).

The nine-time champion in his native Ireland was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2018 and announced his retirement in May of this year. He has since raised over €2.5million for Cancer Trials Ireland. In September, he organised the Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland at the Curragh racecourse, for which legendary jockeys Sir AP McCoy, Kieren Fallon, Charlie Swan and Ruby Walsh returned to the saddle.

The 2016 Derby-winning jockey was described by Cartier’s racing consultant Harry Herbert as “an inspirational figure”.

“As well as his brilliance in the saddle, his dedication to help others who face the same health issues tells us what an outstanding human being he is,” he said.

Pat said it was “an honour” to receive the award.

“I’ve been so fortunate all through my life to have done something that I truly loved,” he said in front of 300 guests from the world of racing.

“In the present moment we should really appreciate what we have and what a great industry it is.

“I got to travel the world, and meet great people through the years and that was achievable only by one thing — the horse.”

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In a heartfelt video of tributes, with footage contribution from Racing TV, ITV Racing, Sky Sports Racing and Horse Racing Ireland, Pat also explained: “When it was your life, it was everything that mattered, when it ends it takes a bit of getting used to. Ascot or Champions Weekend — it’s the good racing you miss.

He added: “I’d like to think that throughout the 25 years that I was a jockey that I conducted myself in a proper manner and I think that’s something to be proud of.”

Trainer Dermot Weld, with whom Pat was long associated, reflected: “The way he’s fought cancer reflects the way he rode horses – the way he rode with that determination, the will to win.”

Pat’s fellow jockey-turned-trainer Johnny Murtagh added: “If you got a young jockey in and you said ‘Just be like Pat Smullen’, you wouldn’t have to tell them anything else.”

The Cartier Awards once again honoured the multi-winning mare Enable, who was crowned Cartier Horse of the Year for the second time. The five-year-old wonder horse, who will remain in training for 2020, joins Frankel and Ouija Board in taking the prestigious title two times.

Enable is home-bred by Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms, trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori. She has earned over £10 million in prize money and this year won Group 1 races the Coral-Eclipse, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth QIPCO Stakes and Darley Yorkshire Oaks.

This was the mare’s fifth Cartier award while John Gosden and Frankie Dettori also gained three further honours on the night. Lord and Lady Lloyd Webber also collected their second trophy for their three-year-old home-bred Too Darn Hot, while Godolphin were double winners.

The full list of Cartier Award winners is as follows:

  • Cartier Horse of the Year: Enable (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori/Prince Khalid Abdullah)
  • Cartier Older Horse: Enable
  • Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt: Too Darn Hot (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori/Lord Lloyd-Webber
  • Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly: Star Catcher (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori/Anthony Oppenheimer)
  • Cartier Stayer: Stradivarius (John Gosden/Frankie Dettori/Bjorn Nielsen)
  • Cartier Sprinter: Blue Point (Charlie Appleby/William Buick and James Doyle/Godolphin)
  • Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt: Pinatubo (Charlie Appleby/William Buick and James Doyle/Godolphin)
  • Cartier Two-Year-Old Filly: Quadrilateral (Roger Charlton/Jason Watson/Khalid Abdullah)
  • Cartier/Daily Telegraph Award Of Merit: Pat Smullen

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