Tuesday 18 June 2019

Smullen vows to overcome 'challenge'


Champion Flat jockey Pat Smullen. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile
Champion Flat jockey Pat Smullen. Photo: Cody Glenn/Sportsfile

Thomas Kelly

Pat Smullen is "fully focused" on making a complete recovery after the nine-times champion Flat jockey was diagnosed with a tumour.

The Offaly native (40) said in a statement yesterday that he will not be riding "for the foreseeable future" as he receives medical treatment.

"Most people will have been aware that I have been in hospital in recent days undergoing tests," Smullen explained.

"I was showing some of the symptoms associated with a gallstone problem but it was discovered that the problem was more serious.

"A tumour was discovered and consequently I won't be riding for the foreseeable future. It's a new challenge for me and it's one I am fully focused on overcoming."

“I’ve got tremendous support from family and friends, both within racing and outside of racing, and I’m very positive about making a full recovery.”

Smullen – who’s undergoing further tests and treatment and expects to be home from hospital in the next couple of weeks – is stable jockey to the powerful Dermot Weld yard and the partnership teamed up to win their first Epsom Derby with Harzand in 2016, before going on to land the Irish equivalent. He had been champion jockey for the previous three seasons before being pipped at the post by Colin Keane last year.

Racing was quick to pledge its support to Smullen, who has not ridden since March 16. Fiona Craig, representative of owners-breeders Moyglare Stud, said on Twitter: “Devastated – no other words, but also more than aware that there is no more determined fighter in a tight finish than PJS, and all that plus will go into fighting to return to what he loves so much.”

Apart from his nine Irish championships, Smullen – who was twice champion apprentice – has ridden the winners of nine Irish Classics, including the Irish Derby on Grey Swallow (2004) and Harzand (2016) and four Irish St Legers on Vinnie Roe. All his Classic winners were trained by  Weld, for whom he has been stable jockey since 1999.

The jockey rode his first Group One winner in 1997 aboard the Tommy Stack-trained Tarascon in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.

Highly respected on both sides of the Irish Sea, his other major victories in England include the 2,000 Guineas on Refuse To Bend (2003), the 2010 Ascot Gold Cup on Rite Of Passage and the 2013 Champion Stakes on Fascinating Rock.

Irish Independent

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