Date of Birth: May 22, 1977
County of origin: Offaly
First winner: Vicosa (Tom Lacy) Dundalk, June 11th, 1993
Final winner: Togoville (Anthony McCann) Dundalk, March 16, 2018
Significant horses (Selected): Harzand, Vinnie Roe, Grey Swallow,
Refuse To Bend, Rite Of Passage, Dress To Thrill, Emulous, Free Eagle, Benbaun,
Covert Love, Fascinating Rock, Muhannak, Famous Name, Evolving Tactics, Simple Exchange, Benbaun, Sapphire, Forgotten Rules, Nightime, Bethrah.
Follow Pat on twitter: @patjsmullen
Did you know?
From Rhode, County Offaly, Pat Smullen was one of the finest Flat jockeys of recent generations. He was champion jockey in Ireland on nine occasions, enjoying no shortage of success as stable jockey to Dermot Weld. Pat announced his retirement from the saddle on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 on medical advice.
Pat's early career was highlighted by his success in the apprentice championship in 1995 and again in 1996. He rode his first Group 1 winner on the Tommy Stack-trained Tarascon in the Moyglare Stud Stakes in 1997. Pat was appointed as stable jockey to Dermot Weld in 1999 and was crowned champion jockey for the first time in 2000. No stranger to big race success in the interim, Smullen landed his biggest winner when Harzand, trained by Dermot Weld, won the Epsom Derby in 2016. The same horse gave Smullen his second success in the Irish Derby at the Curragh the same month.
Smullen was champion jockey in Ireland on nine occasions, in 2000, 2001, 2005, 2007,
2008, 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2016. He rode his first Classic winner when Vinnie Roe won the Irish St Leger in 2001 and the partnership went on to win the race for the next three years. He rode his first English Classic winner when the Weld-trained Refuse To Bend won the QIPCO 2,000 Guineas in 2003. The following year Pat won the Irish Derby for the first time on the Weld-trained Grey Swallow and won the Irish 1,000 Guineas on two occasions with Weld's Nightime (2006) and Bethrah (2010). Smullen enjoyed further Irish Classic success when winning the Oaks on Covert Love, trained by Hugo Palmer, in 2015. Smullen rode big race winners on the likes of Rite Of
Passage, Dress To
Thrill, Emulous, Free Eagle and Benbaun. He rode eight winners at Royal Ascot.
Pat didn't ride again after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2018. He announced his retirement in May of the following year, saying: "I don’t want to make a huge deal of it but it’s been a tough year and it has taken its toll on my body.
"I had two surgeries and when I recovered from that I had to then face another round of chemotherapy treatment. It was tough going but it has all been worthwhile and thankfully it has gone very well. Whatever has gone in the past in my career, and I like to think I achieved a little bit, this was the biggest achievement of all, getting through this, and I definitely now see life from a different perspective. I can never be thankful enough to the medical people who have given me a second chance at life.
"I’ve been very fortunate through my career to meet some great people and to ride some very good horses. I have a lot of cherished memories of a great career, and I’m very thankful for that. Now it’s the second chapter of my life. I think everyone has gathered by now that horses are everything in my life. I know nothing else and I’m determined that I’ll still work within the industry and, hopefully, I can be of some benefit."
Pat immediately set about fundraising for pancreatic cancer trials and awareness of pancreatic cancer research and his efforts saw a sum in excess of €2.5m raised within a matter of months. He was at the centre of a drive by the Irish horse racing and breeding industry over Longines Irish Champions Weekend in September 2019 which culminated in the Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland (cancertrials.ie) at the Curragh.
A weekend of charity events included a charity dinner, an on-line auction in which items were donated by the racing and breeding community and specially-designed souvenir cups were on sale at both Leopardstown and the Curragh.
Although he had planned to do so, Pat was unable to ride in the Champions Race which saw Tony McCoy, Ruby Walsh, Kieran Fallon, Ted Durcan, Charlie Swan, Joseph O'Brien, Richard Hughes, Johnny Murtagh and Paul Carberry return to the saddle with Des Scahill providing commentary. McCoy led the field of nine home on Quizical for Smullen’s good friends, trainer Sheila Lavery and her brother John.
Look back at the Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland and a number of post-race interviews here: