Monday 16 September 2019

Champion jockeys including Ruby Walsh, AP McCoy and Kieren Fallon set for 'race of a lifetime' at the Curragh

Ruby Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile
Ruby Walsh. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Nine of the greatest Flat and National Hunt jockeys of all time feature on day two of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh on Sunday for the Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland.

Race seven (4.50) on a bumper nine-race card features a never-to-be-repeated opportunity to see living legends like Ruby Walsh, AP McCoy and Kieren Fallon take to the saddle for the last time.

Paul Carberry, Charlie Swan, Ted Durcan, Richard Hughes, Johnny Murtagh and Joseph O’Brien will all ride in the race created by nine-time Irish champion jockey Pat Smullen to increase awareness of pancreatic cancer and to raise much-needed funds for upcoming cancer trials.

"I’m so grateful to these lads for coming out of retirement to ride in the race, it looks like the race of a lifetime and I’m just disappointed that I can’t ride in it!" Smullen said.

"I know that it has meant a few gruelling weeks for some of them as they get fit for it and I really do appreciate it.

"This race will hopefully raise awareness of pancreatic cancer but it is also going to contribute to our goal this weekend of raising as much money as possible for Cancer Trials Ireland, who has two vital cancer trials ready to go.

"The generosity people have shown has been heart-warming. Within 24 hours we had found sponsors for all of the jockeys and that’s a credit to the generosity of a lot of people.

"Thanks to Adare Manor, Ballymore Properties, Bar One Racing, Betfair, BetVictor, the INBA, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and SkyBet, as well as The Underwriting Exchange, The Patron Group and Racing TV."

Trainer Ger Lyons ran a hugely successful social media campaign to poach the services of Johnny Murtagh and as of declaration time the ‘What’s Johnny worth?’ fund had swelled to €17,000.

That means that Lyons and Murtagh will renew a partnership that enjoyed so much success, including at Group 1 level when Lightening Pearl won the Cheveley Park Stakes in 2011 with Murtagh riding Red Striker for the Meath trainer.

"I’m delighted with the quality of the race, both in terms of the incredible champions who will ride in it, as well as a competitive field of horses that will give us great excitement on Sunday," Smullen said.

"It’s a proper race too with all horses running off their correct marks, which is what the jockeys wanted. Without the horses though, we wouldn’t have a race so a big thanks to the trainers and the owners of Sunday’s field, most of whom I had the pleasure to ride for during my career."    

A fantastic array of sporting experiences and memorabilia have also been donated to an online auction with proceeds going towards two Cancer Trials Ireland pancreatic trials, one involving radiotherapy and the other trialling a new drug after the trials had been put on hold due to a lack of funding.

Auction items include the chance to caddy for Open Champion Shane Lowry at the 2020 Irish Open Pro Am, a Coaching and Q&A session with Irish rugby legend Ronan O’Gara as well as VIP trips to iconic race meetings worldwide and visits to top training yards as well as a year's free training fees with leading trainers.

Auction items can be viewed here https://app.galabid.com/smullen/items

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