Pat Eddery

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Pat Eddery
Golden Fleece.jpg
Eddery on 1982 Epsom Derby winner Golden Fleece at Leopardstown
Born(1952-03-18)18 March 1952
Newbridge, County Kildare, Ireland
Died10 November 2015(2015-11-10) (aged 63)
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England
Major racing wins
British Classic Race wins as jockey:
2000 Guineas (3)
1000 Guineas (1)
Epsom Derby (3)
Epsom Oaks (3)
St Leger Stakes (4)[1]
Racing awards
British flat racing Champion Jockey 11 times (1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1996)
Pat Eddery Stakes at Ascot Racecourse
British Champions Series Hall of Fame (2021)
Significant horses
Polygamy, Grundy, Scintillate, Detroit, Storm Bird, Kings Lake, Golden Fleece, Assert, Lomond, El Gran Senor, Rainbow Quest, Dancing Brave, Moon Madness, Warning, Zafonic, Quest for Fame, Toulon, Moonax, Bosra Sham, Lady Carla, Silver Patriarch

Patrick James John Eddery OBE (18 March 1952 – 10 November 2015) was an Irish flat racing jockey and trainer. He rode three winners of the Derby and was Champion Jockey on eleven occasions. He rode the winners of 4,632 British flat races, a figure exceeded only by Sir Gordon Richards.[2]


Eddery's class at Oatlands Primary School in Stillorgan

Eddery was born in Newbridge, County Kildare, less than 2 miles from the Curragh Racecourse,[3][4] and his birth was registered in Dublin.[5] He was the fifth child of Jimmy Eddery, a jockey who rode Panaslipper to win the Irish Derby in 1955,[6] and Josephine (the daughter of jockey Jack Moylan).[4] His brother, Paul, also went on to become a jockey. He attended the Patrician Brothers' Primary School in Newbridge and when the family later moved to Blackrock, the Oatlands Primary School in Stillorgan.

Riding career[edit]

Since early childhood, Pat Eddery's most frequent dreams were to be the champion jockey and winning the Derby.[7]

Eddery began his career as an apprentice jockey in Ireland with the stable of Seamus McGrath. In 1967 he moved to England where he was apprenticed to Frenchie Nicholson and recorded his first success on Alvaro at Epsom Downs Racecourse on 24 April 1969 after riding more than one whole season without a single winner. The same horse was to give Eddery 6 wins in succession during the 1969 season. While still riding as an apprentice he won the Wokingham Handicap and the Timeform Gold Cup in 1969, the Northumberland Plate in 1970 and the Goodwood Stakes in 1971, a year in which he won the title of Champion Apprentice Jockey.[6] Before formally out of apprenticeship, Eddery won the Ascot Gold Cup in 1972 after the disqualification of Roc Roi. Nicknamed Polyfilla in his early career, Pat was described as a seal in water on horseback in for a long swim.[8]

Throughout his riding career he clinched 11 championship titles, two batches coming in four consecutive seasons (1974–1977; 1988–1991). But for his joining the Vincent O'Brien stable in autumn 1980 that took him out of all main Saturday meetings in England, he would certainly have recorded more champion titles, though he did become the Irish Champion in 1982. His last champion title in 1996 was his determination to regain what he had lost when the English racing season switched over in the early 1990s to multi-purpose track racing starting in November, a time when Eddery was customarily riding for other overseas retainers since the early 1970s.

Eddery's first championship title in 1974 saw the youngest English flat racing champion emerging after World War II, a record not since broken by subsequent champions. He was also first voted the Jockey of the Year in 1974 by the Horserace Writers' Association. He finished his retainer with Peter Walwyn in 1980 after two seasons of equine virus acutely affecting the Walwyn stables. He then joined forces with the greatest racing conglomerate of that time – the Ballydoyle stables under Irish compatriot Vincent O'Brien. When in the mid-1980s the Arab owners began to dominate the British racing scene, Eddery was retained globally [9] by the owner of Juddmonte stables,[10] Arab prince Khalid Abdullah, a position he held until 1994, after which he rode as freelance jockey until his retirement from the saddle at the end of 2003.

Eddery's riding style was not elegant by normal standards, owing to his habit of bouncing up and down in the saddle as he urged his mounts on at the final finishes, but was undeniably effective. Frenchie Nicholson said that he regretted the fact that his protegee abandoned the "quiet, refined" style he had been taught but admitted that the young jockey stood out as being "in total harmony" with the horses he rode.[11]

Eddery rode for the Newmarket trainer Geoffrey Barling in 1972 before taking over as the stable jockey for Peter Walwyn later that year. For Walwyn he won his first two classic races on Polygamy and Grundy and was Champion Jockey in four consecutive seasons from 1974 to 1977.[6] While under retainer with Walwyn, he clinched his first title at the record young age of 22. In 1975 he rode Grundy to victory over Bustino for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot Racecourse[12] in what became known as Britain's "Race of the Century".[13] Well known for riding champion horses like Sadler's Wells, Danehill (the grand sires on the sire and dam side of Frankel), etc., Eddery was also famed for riding for big owners as well as champion trainers. Apart from the later illustrious associations with Robert Sangster, Arab giant owners Prince Khalid bin Abdullah, Wafic Saïd and Maktoum al-Maktoum, he rode to winners in the then Colony of Hong Kong on the first ever race horse to be owned by tycoon Li Ka Shing, called 'Golden Victory' and trained by English trainer John Brown to whom Eddery rode for many seasons in winter in Hong Kong since 10 November 1973.[14]

In the following decade, Eddery became associated with the Irish Ballydoyle stable of Vincent O'Brien and gained further classic success on Kings Lake, Lomond, Golden Fleece, Assert and El Gran Senor. In 1986, on the choice of the horse's owner, he took over from Greville Starkey as the rider of Dancing Brave. He partnered Dancing Brave to victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe[15] and became the worldwide retained jockey of the colt's owner, Khalid Abdullah. While the press played up in the course of years the controversy between Starkey and Eddery, Eddery had been most reticent and underplayed the apparent falling out.[16] Major winners in the Abdullah colours included Zafonic, Quest for Fame, Warning and Toulon. He was Champion Jockey a further seven times in eleven years between 1986 and 1996. His epic battle for championship in 1987 with American Steve Cauthen was particularly intense, with Cauthen winning the title with 197 and Eddery coming close at 195, and but for an objection from the third horse after the last definitive race in which Eddery won against Cauthen making the Championship a tie, the title would have been a shared one.[17] In the year 1988, Eddery completed 183 winners from 480 odd rides – which was a great strike rate, and regained the title.[18]

Eddery also rode several major winners outside Europe including Jupiter Island in the 1986 Japan Cup and Pebbles in the 1985 Breeders' Cup Turf[19] In North America he also won the Arlington Million on Tolomeo, the Canadian International Stakes on French Glory and the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Sheikh Albadou. An active racing ambassador overseas since his early years, Eddery joined forces with Lester Piggott, Joe Mercer and French champion Freddie Head and Yves Saint-Martin in a group of riders to take part in a series of challenge races under the 'Ritz Club Challenge Trophy' at Singapore and other Asian cities starting in 1983 for several years.[20][21] Eddery's overseas winners, tallying with his British winners, exceeded well over 6,000.

In 1990 he was the winner of the inaugural Lester Award for Flat Jockey of the Year, which he again won in 1991 and 1996, sharing on the latter occasion with Frankie Dettori. He also received two Flat Jockey Special Recognition awards in 2002 and 2003. He retired from the saddle at the end of the 2003 flat season and stated that he had no intention of becoming a trainer.[11]

For the most part of his ultra-successful riding career, and spanning a quarter of a century, Pat Eddery's booking agent was his brother-in-law Terry Ellis, from the time Eddery was under retainer with Peter Walwyn until 1999 when he was riding as freelance. They parted ways after Eddery underwent a slipped-disc operation in 1999, with Ellis helping out the other riding members of the Eddery family.[22]

Eddery summed up his attitude to the sport by saying, "That's all part of the game, going to the Folkestones and the smaller tracks, because it's not Royal Ascot every day. You've got to be out there every day working those muscles, riding in every race if you want to be at your best. There may be more money for a Derby than a seller but that doesn't make you try any harder. A winner is a winner."[23] In his autobiography, he admitted that his primary and sole motive as jockey was to ride winners, and any one saying that he does not wish to win is either a liar or a fool [24]

Training career[edit]

Despite his earlier statements and on the suggestion of wife Carolyn, in July 2005, Eddery was granted a training licence and set up a stable of 40 horses at Musk Hill Stud in Nether Winchendon, near Aylesbury.[4] His brother, Paul Eddery, was Assistant Trainer and his Racing Manager was Simon Double who also co-founded Pat Eddery Racing, the racehorse syndication company which provided the opportunity for people to own shares in racehorses.

Eddery's first runner as a trainer was Perez, who finished second in an all-weather maiden race at Wolverhampton in December 2005. His first training success was with the horse Visionist in a handicap race at Kempton Park in April 2006. His first winner on turf was the two-year-old filly Cavort in a maiden 6 furlong race at Goodwood. His trainer career culminated with Hearts Of Fire winning Italy's Group 1 Gran Criterium in 2009.[25] He sent out his final runner in the week before his death.[26]

In 2005, he was awarded an honorary OBE, which he described as "a great honour".[27]

In 2012, he acted as a judge in the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Awards, giving up his free time generously in support of the industry he was so successful in. [28]


One of the twelve living children of Jimmy Eddery and Josephine Moylan, the other four of the five male siblings of Pat Eddery are horse-riders in one way or the other: Michael, Robert, Paul and David. His uncle Robert Moylan also rode successfully. Pat Eddery married in November 1978 Carolyn, the daughter of flat jockey Manny Mercer, niece of jockey Joe Mercer, and granddaughter of jockey Harry Wragg.[29] They had two daughters, Nichola and Natasha, and a son Harry. Eddery had another son, Toby Atkinson, who also became a jockey. The marriage broke down in 2008 and the couple formally divorced in 2009.[citation needed]


Eddery died on 10 November 2015, aged 63 at Stoke Mandeville Hospital due to a heart attack,[30] but suffered a long battle with alcoholism.[31][32] His funeral was held on 8 December 2015 and he was cremated at Oxford after the funeral, with his ashes to be scattered on his family compound according to his last wishes.

Publications and biography[edit]

  • Pat on the Back, written by Claude Duval, published in 1976 by Stanley Paul, London
  • To be a Champion, autobiography by Pat Eddery and Alan Lee, published in 1992 by Coronet Books

Major wins as a jockey[edit]

1000 Guineas
Dark green, white chevron and sleeves, white cap, green star Royal blue, white epaulets, pink cap Royal blue, white epaulets, black cap
Bosra Sham Matiya Bint Shadayid
2000 Guineas
Emerald green, royal blue sleeves, white cap, emerald green spots Red and white hoops, green sleeves, red cap Red, white cap, green star
Lomond Tolomeo Muscatite
Emerald green, royal blue sleeves, white cap, emerald green spots Purple, light blue chevron, light blue cap Yellow, blue diamonds on body, yellow cap, blue spots
El Gran Senor Chief Singer Lear Fan
Green, pink epaulets and cap, white sleeves Maroon, white sleeves, maroon cap, white star Blue, yellow epaulets, striped sleeves, star on cap
Zafonic Barathea Bin Ajwaad
Dark blue, yellow hoop, armlets and spots on cap Light and dark green check, light green sleeves, white cap Lemon, dark blue diamond and sleeves
Grundy Nobiliary Hunza Dancer
Emerald green, royal blue sleeves, white cap, emerald green spots Royal blue, white chevron, light blue cap Green, red armlets and cap
Golden Fleece Touching Wood Silver Hawk
Green, pink sash and cap, white sleeves Emerald green, royal blue sleeves, white cap, emerald green spots Royal blue, white epaulets, striped cap
Quest For Fame Blue Stag Elmaamul
Yellow, black spots, yellow sleeves and cap Chocolate, gold braid and sleeves, quartered cap Light and dark green check, light green sleeves, white cap
Polygamy Furioso Matuta
Dark green, white sash, check cap Grey, pink sleeves, check cap White, maroon hoop, armlets and cap
Scintillate Bonnie Isle Britannia's Rule
Dark green, white chevron and sleeves, white cap, green star Royal blue Dark blue, yellow armlets and cap
Lady Carla Pricket Mezzogiorno
St Leger
Sky blue, gold quartered cap Blue, yellow sash, spots on sleeves, quartered cap Royal blue, white chevron, light blue cap
Moon Madness Celestial Storm Untold
Green, pink epaulets, white sleeves, pink cap Pale Blue, White and Yellow check cap Black, white chevron hoop, white cap
Toulon Saddlers' Hall Micheletti
Maroon, white sleeves, maroon cap, white star Red and yellow halved, chevrons on sleeves, quartered cap Emerald green, red stripe, halved sleeves, emerald green and red striped cap
Moonax Broadway Flyer Double Trigger
Red and blue (quartered), white sleeves, black cap Royal Blue, Light Blue cap Royal blue, silver striped sleeves, red and royal blue hooped cap
Silver Patriarch Vertical Speed The Fly

United Kingdom Great Britain

Canada Canada

France France

Germany Germany

Hong Kong Hong Kong

  • Jockeys' Invitation Race – Destiny (1974)
  • Hong Kong Derby – (2) – Breathing Exercise (1975), Grand Duke (1977)
  • Queen's Silver Jubilee Challenge Cup – Caerdeon Line (1977)[33]
  • St. Andrew's Plate – Seven Stars (1979)
  • Hong Kong Gold Cup – Observatory (1979)[34]

Republic of Ireland Ireland

Italy Italy

Japan Japan

Slovakia Slovakia

  • Slovenské Derby – (1) – Lonango (1997)[35]

United States United States

Major wins as a trainer[edit]

Italy Italy


  1. ^ Morris, Tony; Randall, John (1990). Horse Racing: Records, Facts, Champions (Third ed.). Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-902-1.
  2. ^ "Jockey Duffield retires aged 58". BBC Sport. BBC. 11 March 2005. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  3. ^ Pat on the Back, biography by Claude Duval
  4. ^ a b c Sean Magee (10 November 2015). "Pat Eddery obituary". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Ireland Civil Registration Indexes, 1845–1958". FamilySearch. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Mortimer, Roger; Onslow, Richard; Willett, Peter (1978). Biographical Encyclopedia of British Flat Racing. Macdonald and Jane's. ISBN 0-354-08536-0.
  7. ^ Pat on the Back, Claude Duval
  8. ^ "Eddery's Final Week – Farewell to a legend: 'This one had something – for him riding was like a seal splashing in the water. ' 'Pat was in for a long swim'. - Free Online Library".
  9. ^ "New Straits Times – Google News Archive Search".
  10. ^ "THE MASTER HORSEMAN OF HIS AGE; John Randall looks back at the life, times, achievements and records of Vincent O'Brien, arguably the greatest trainer of racehorses in the history of the sport and a genius blessed with an unrivalled eye for a future Derby winner: VINCENT O'BRIEN 1917–2009: Rollcall of legends – and one final brilliant flourish at Belmont Park. - Free Online Library".
  11. ^ a b Chris Cook (10 November 2015). "A great jockey with an individual style". The Guardian.
  12. ^ Racehorses of 1975. Timeform. 1976.
  13. ^ Chris Cook (24 July 2015). "Grundy versus Bustino: the Race of the Century 40 years on". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 28 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ Racehorses of 1986. Timeform. 1987. ISBN 0-900599-44-8.
  16. ^ "Farewell sweet Prince – the end of Eddery's long and winding road". 20 November 2015.
  17. ^ To be a Champion, by Pat Eddery
  18. ^ "Pat Eddery was Par Excellence on French Soil".
  19. ^ Racehorses of 1985. Timeform. 1986. ISBN 0-900599-42-1.
  20. ^ "Local Racing News".
  21. ^ "Results – Racing Information – Horse Racing – The Hong Kong Jockey Club".
  22. ^ "Letters: Eddery split end of era; Peter Walwyn laments the end of the partnership between Pat Eddery and Terry Ellis. - Free Online Library".
  23. ^ "Pat Eddery, jockey – obituary". Daily Telegraph. 10 November 2015.
  24. ^ "To be Champion", 1992 Coronet Books
  25. ^ "Legendary jockey Pat Eddery dies aged 63". Racing UK. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  26. ^ Cook, Chris (10 November 2015). "Pat Eddery, 11 times champion jockey, dies aged 63". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  27. ^ "Eddery to be honoured with OBE". BBC Sport. 25 February 2005.
  28. ^ "Legendary jockey Pat Eddery dies aged 63: Tributes, obituary, career highlights & statistics | Horse Racing Betting Tips | Live Results & Racecards | Sporting Life". Archived from the original on 2 February 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  29. ^ "Flying Colours". 2006. Archived from the original on 19 March 2007. Retrieved 19 March 2007.
  30. ^ "Heart attack confirmed as cause of Pat Eddery death".
  31. ^ "Pat Eddery: Shy legend of track who lost his way". Independent. 30 November 2015. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  32. ^ "Pat Eddery was battling alcoholism when he died says daughter Natasha". Express. 12 November 2015. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  33. ^ "The Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup".
  34. ^ "Hong Kong Racing – South China Morning Post". South China Morning Post.
  35. ^ "Petrzalka on track ten top horses". SME Bratislava. 19 July 2002. Retrieved 11 November 2015.