Pat Smullen’s ambitious quest to raise funds for pancreatic cancer trials and awareness of pancreatic cancer research has seen a whopping sum in excess of €2.5m raised.
The nine-time Irish champion jockey was at the centre of an incredible fund-raising drive by Irish horse racing over Champions Weekend, which culminated in the Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland at the Curragh last Sunday.
A charity dinner and an online auction were the chief fundraising activities over a memorable weekend while donations are continuing to flood into cancertrials.ie, the charity’s website, even after the dust has settled on a special weekend.
The Champions Race was won in dramatic and emotional circumstances by 20-time British jumps champion Tony McCoy, riding Quizical for Smullen’s good friends Sheila and John Lavery.
The generosity shown across the racing community and beyond will make a difference very quickly with two cancer trials ready to be put into operation by Cancer Trials Ireland while donations are still welcome.
Offaly jockey Smullen is bowled over by the success of the fundraising:“I never dreamed that we would reach a figure like this and it is a tribute to the kind nature of everyone in the racing and breeding industry – I am overwhelmed!
“Sunday at the Curragh was a special day and a huge thank you to everybody who came along. I don’t think we’ll ever see a race like that again and I owe so much to my good friends, the nine champion jockeys, who came out of retirement to ride in it.
“I also want to thank everybody in Horse Racing Ireland for their energy, ideas and encouragement throughout the campaign, the Longines Irish Champions Weekend committee, the Curragh, Leopardstown and the IHRB, the media, all the volunteers and everybody who played a role in helping us achieve our goals.
“Having worked with the team in Cancer Trials Ireland, I am excited with how they can make your donations work to give hope to those families affected by cancer. A sincere thank you to one and all.”
Brian Kavanagh, CEO of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), praised Smullen's ability to "give the entire industry a reason to join together" and hopes that these funds can help to "change people's lives".