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'If there was ever a horse named for Pat Smullen it was Refuse to Bend' - Ruby Walsh pays emotional tribute

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Pat Smullen, left, and Ruby Walsh prior to the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland during Day Two of the Irish Champions Weekend at The Curragh Racecourse in Kildare. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Pat Smullen, left, and Ruby Walsh prior to the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland during Day Two of the Irish Champions Weekend at The Curragh Racecourse in Kildare. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Pat Smullen, left, and Ruby Walsh prior to the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland during Day Two of the Irish Champions Weekend at The Curragh Racecourse in Kildare. Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

As emotional Ruby Walsh couldn't hold back the tears as he paid a touching tribute to Pat Smullen this morning.

The 12-time Irish Champion Jockey was talking about his friend on RTE's Morning Ireland in the wake of Smullen's untimely death at 43 years of age on Monday night. Smullen had fought a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer over the last two and a half years and has been lauded for the charity work he had undertaken in that time.

"He led by example," Walsh said as he struggled to keep his emotions in check.

"I knew it was coming for the last while but if there was a horse ever named for Pat Smullen to ride it was (his 2,000 Guineas winner) Refuse to Bend because he refused to bend as a jockey and he refused to bend all through his illness.

"From that day (he was diagnosed) forward both himself and (his wife) Frances got stuck in to try and figure out how you're going to deal with it and cope with it. And ultimately aim to make it better but nobody was ever under the illusion other than that it was going to be a very big battle.

"Pancreatic cancer is very, very serious and from the word go and Pat took it on head on. He was looking for a way to beat it. But he never wanted to describe it like that, he was dealing with it and he was trying to make the best out of it."

Although they raced in different disciplines, with Smullen Irish Champion Jockey on the Flat nine times and Walsh Champion Jumps Jockey in eight of those years. Walsh described the dedication Smullen brought to his sport and the influence he had in the weight room among his contemporaries.

Smullen bravely brough that same dedication to his charity work, raising €2.5m for pancreatic cancer research before his death.

"You hear people described as the ultimate professional. We often wonder what that means but Pat was incredibly dedicated. He at times wasn't riddled with self belief, he had to do his homework and he was always grateful for what he achieved but there was times he doubted himself too. But he had to overcome that.

"He was just a very good rider. Extremely punctual, hardworking. He was always spotlessly clean. He was a great communicator. He had a lot of everything to make him so good, he didn't just have one thing.

"He was a great judge of pace, he was always pratically in the right place. He was incredibly detailed and deep in everything he did and he put a lot of thought and effort into what made him a jockey."

"He was a big character in the weigh room. He was great for the Jockeys Association and for the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund. He was a good jockey for younger apprentices to talk to.

"All through his career, you never ever saw a headline or story about Pat Smullen for the wrong reasons."

Online Editors