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Monday 5 December 2016

Eddery's genius vastly underrated

Published 15/11/2015 | 17:00

Pat Eddery, who died last week at the age of 63
Pat Eddery, who died last week at the age of 63

A few months back we ran a series on the best Irish sports stars and teams of the last 50 years. Very good it was too. But one name was missing from our top 50 performers - Pat Eddery, who died last week at the age of 63. In the 1975-1984 period he was judged inferior to the likes of John Watson, Brian Mullins and Ollie Campbell, in the 1985-1994 period Dennis Taylor, Teddy McCarthy and Michael Carruth got the nod ahead of him.

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Now, all of these people were tremendous in their day. But not one of them could hold a candle to Eddery, who was one of the outstanding Irish sports stars of my lifetime. Look at his record. Only one jockey, the peerless Sir Gordon Richards, rode more winners on the flat on this side of the pond. Only three won more champion jockey titles and two of those, Nat Flatman and Fred Archer, won theirs back in the reign of Queen Victoria. In modern times only Lester Piggott, Willie Carson, Kieren Fallon and Frankie Dettori won more classics than Eddery.

The man from Kildare was very good for a very long time, winning his first champion jockey title at the age of just 22 in 1974 and his last at the age of 44 in 1996. When he won that first title he was the youngest title-holder since Charlie Elliott 50 years previously. And when he won the last title he was the oldest since Piggott in 1982. No older jockey has won the title since. It was a very special career.

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