Nine-time Irish champion jockey Pat Smullen has passed away at the age of 43.
The Racing Post broke the sad news on social media this evening, tweeting: "The Racing Post is sad to report that nine-time Irish champion jockey and 12-time European Classic winner Pat Smullen has died at the age of 43.
"His family have said that he died this evening in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin."
Smullen, who enjoyed 12 European Classic victories, was forced to abruptly retire from the saddle following a pancreatic cancer diagnosis in March 2018 and had suffered a relapse in recent months.
He was Irish flat racing champion jockey on nine occasions (the first won in 2000, the most recent coming in 2016) and won some of the most famous races in the sport, including the Epsom Derby, the Ascot Gold Cup, the Champion Stakes and the 2,000 Guineas.
The highlight of his career was winning the 2016 Investec Derby at Epsom aboard Harzand for his long-time employer Dermot Weld.
Pat Smullen was a wonderful jockey and a tremendous ambassador for racing in and out of the saddle.
Here's his proudest moment as a rider, when winning the 2016 Derby at Epsom aboard Harzand in the silks of the Aga Khan for trainer Dermot Weld. pic.twitter.com/LpdJpyTKgT
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) September 15, 2020
In 2001, Smullen married former trainer Frances Crowley, the first woman to train an Irish Classic winner. They have three children together - Hannah, Paddy and Sarah.
Tributes have flooded in for the popular jockey this evening, with friends and fans taking to Twitter to remember a man who left a lasting impact on the sport.
Pat Smullen: brilliant jockey & a wonderful man. Racing has lost a true great https://t.co/N6bmm4zQBM
— Ed Chamberlin (@chamberlinsport) September 15, 2020
I could never get my head around how Pat Smullen coped with what befell him in his prime. What he achieved throughout his illness was nothing short of incredible. Asidefrom being a world-class rider, that's how I'll remember him most. Beyond inspirational. Sleep well PJ Smullen.
— Johnny Ward (@Ui_Maine) September 15, 2020
All thoughts tonight with Pat Smullens friends and family... rest in peace Champ. pic.twitter.com/UXpZg4viCk
— AI Racing (@AI_Racing) September 15, 2020
Terribly sad news this evening that Pat Smullen has passed away. Nine times champion jockey and an inspirational figure in racing and Irish society. May he rest in peace. Our thoughts are with Frances and their children Hannah, Paddy & Sarah. pic.twitter.com/Nsg85MVZ0h
— The Irish Field (@TheIrishField) September 15, 2020
I'm in complete shock. We have lost a giant of the sport. Pat Smullen was one of life's great champions. A world class jockey, one of Ireland's best ever. On top of that, Pat was a complete gent and did so much for Cancer research during his brave battle. RIP Pat. pic.twitter.com/V3Za8JCuFC
— Gleneagles (@Glen_Colt) September 15, 2020
If 2020 couldn't get any worse. Gutted hear the passing of Pat Smullen. Battled his illness with such bravery and dignity. RIP Pat. A true legend in the saddle #RIPPatSmullen pic.twitter.com/a5WBRXBunA
— Lloyd Murphy (@lloyd_murphy) September 15, 2020
Heartbreaking - rest in peace, Pat Smullen... pic.twitter.com/tpOPMWLWHU
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) September 15, 2020
Such heartbreaking news this evening that Pat Smullen has passed away. Champion jockey and an inspirational figure in racing and Irish society. He achieved so much & touched so many. May he rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family tonight. pic.twitter.com/uPioPgy7Pz
— Peter Burke (@peterburkefg) September 15, 2020
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