Pat Smullen tribute: Three of his best career winners

The racing industry has united in sad circumstances to pay tribute to Pat Smullen, following his death at the age of 43.

The nine-time champion jockey passed away on Tuesday after bravely battling pancreatic cancer for two-and-a-half years.

Smullen, who won 11 Classic races during a stellar quarter century in the saddle, suffered a relapse in recent months.

The results of his initial treatment had been positive – and he focused his energy on helping Cancer Trials Ireland, via a legends race on Irish Champions Weekend.

Won by Sir Anthony McCoy last year, it raised more than €2.5million for the charity.

After celebrating success in many major races, including the Epsom Derby, Irish Derby and the 2000 Guineas, Smullen called time on his career in March 2018, the month of his diagnosis.

McCoy led dozens of tributes from top industry figures.

"Devastated, there’s no words," he said.

"It’s hard to believe his amazing charity race was a year ago today. Heartbreaking.

“Thinking about Fran, Hannah, Paddy and Sarah. RIP champ.”

Brian Kavanagh, chief executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “Pat was one of our greatest stars. He was nine-times champion jockey, but in many ways his greatest achievements were out of the saddle.

“Since his diagnosis, he did wonderful work fund-raising for charity and he battled this disease with great heart and it’s hard to believe he has passed at such a young age.

"All our thoughts are with Frances and his three children, Hannah, Paddy and Sarah, and all his friends and colleagues in the weighing room."

Three of Pat Smullen's best career winners

Harzand – Epsom Derby 2016

Positioned a couple of horses off the rail coming into the straight, Smullen was in the perfect position to strike on the Ballysax Stakes winner.

Switching around Idaho to give his mount plenty of daylight, they chased that rival and overtook after the two-furlong pole.

Another Ballydoyle raider, the favourite US Army Ranger, appeared on their outside under Ryan Moore, but Harzand battled on tenaciously to take the prize.

Smullen punched the air in delight on the Dermot Weld-trained colt, who was owned by the Aga Khan.

It was a great result because it never nearly happened, as Harzand dislodged a shoe while travelling over to England.

The team made a late decision to run and the rest is history.

Vinnie Roe – Irish St Leger 2004

Smullen only missed one of the top stayer's 29 races – and what a fine partnership they were.

Together four Irish St Legers came their way, the last of those triumphant days 16 years ago from now.

Racing in his usual blinkers, Vinnie Roe settled in fourth, and Smullen asked him to improve entering the stright.

By a furlong from the finish, the pair were clear and won easily by two-and-a-half lengths.

Vinnie Roe was one of those good horses with wins on all types of ground and he loved competing at the Curragh.

But on three occasions he reunited with Smullen in Australia for the Melbourne Cup.

The trips paid off, with a second and a fourth added to the classy performer's glittering CV.

Refuse To Bend – 2,000 Guineas 2003

A landmark first British Classic winner for his rider, Refuse To Bend came into the Newmarket contest unbeaten.

Trained by Dermot Weld, who had not won the race before either, the three-year-old was heavily backed in the lead-up to the race and went off joint second favourite.

Smullen kept it simple, tracking the leaders and asking his mount to lead inside final furlong.

He had to be at his strongest to hold off outsiders Zafeen and Norse Dancer in a tight finish.

"I told Pat to go out there and ride him like a champion, and that's what he did," Weld said afterwards.

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