The jockeys at Doncaster played pranks aplenty on their hero Pat Eddery, who may have ended up enduring, rather than enjoying, his last day in the weighing-room on Saturday.
For Pat, the 11-times champion who was bringing down the curtain on 37 years in the saddle in Britain, it was hardly a fitting finale on the closing day of the turf season at Doncaster. Five rides produced no winners, and, would you believe, a caution from the stewards about his future use of the whip.
But no one seemed to care. The crowd clapped and cheered him all the way from the jockeys’ room to the parade ring, on to the back of his final mount, the odds-on Gamut, and all the way to the start.
Even though the 51-year-old finished only third on Gamut behind Scott’s View, racegoers applauded him all the way back to unsaddle. Then the fun began. After being presented by Doncaster racecourse with a trophy in celebration of his lifelong achievements, his fellow riders took over.
They joined him on the podium, pulled “silly string” canisters from inside their breeches and sprayed their idol with multi-coloured foam streamers until his hair was covered with every colour of the rainbow. Pat was still trying to wipe his head clean as he stepped up to present Kieren Fallon with his sixth jockeys’ championship trophy.
When he went to get changed the jockeys looked on mischievously before roaring with excited approval as Pat discovered his underpants had been cut in half, the ends of his socks chopped off and his scarf cut in two. He finally pulled on his shoes to find them stuffed with cream cakes.
It cannot be emphasised enough that the jockeys played up Pat to the limit for the very good reason that they love him. For more than a quarter of a century he has been at the heart of the jockeys’ room and all the banter that goes on there.
They have enormous respect for him as a professional and are in awe of his seemingly endless list of triumphs around the world, from his Japan Cup on Jupiter Island to two Breeders’ Cups on Pebbles and Sheikh Albadou, not to mention his successes on the European front.
Fourteen English classics, including three Derbys on Grundy, Golden Fleece and Quest For Fame as well as four Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes on Detroit, Rainbow Quest, Dancing Brave and Trempolino are also among Pat’s best rides.
Patrick James John Eddery signed off with a total of 4,632 domestic winners, the second winning-most jockey in the history of British racing behind Sir Gordon Richards.