Eddery recorded his 4,000th career winner when partnerning Dunlop’s Silver Patriarch to a famous victory in the 1997 St Leger at Doncaster.
Only Sir Gordon Richards rode more career winners than Eddery whose 35-year career in the saddle began in Lester Piggott’s era and ended when Frankie Dettori was dominant.
“Pat rode his first winner for me in 1973 at Bath and in all had nearly 400 winners for me,” said Dunlop. “I was lucky to be training in a vintage era of jockeys and the fact Pat rode for me on and off for 30 years tells you everything.
“He was a delightful man to spend time with, he had huge success but was great company at the same time. Above all, he just worked harder than the others I think.
“Silver Patriarch was special. To come back from being beaten a nose in the Derby and win the St Leger, and for it to be his 4,000th winner made it a very memorable day. I’m so sorry to hear the news.”
Jockeys held a minute’s silence before racing yesterday and wore black armbands in Eddery’s memory. Perhaps the most heartfelt tribute came from the rider’s great friend and rival Willie Carson who said: “It’s a very sad loss. He was a huge part of my life because we were together and friends for a very long time.
“An absolute gentleman, one of the greatest jockeys ever to ride a horse and you could go on forever about all the great horses he rode, but he always told me the best was Golden Fleece, especially in the Derby. He was liked by everyone. Part of my life has gone as well. When he retired, he hit a problem because racing had been his life – all he ever wanted to be was a jockey.
“He tried the breeding game which didn’t work, he never settled into retirement. He’s gone at an early age – 63 is no age at all – and he’ll be sadly missed. Pat always had the knack. When he was on a horse, he always did the right thing and got horses running for him.”
Another weighing-room colleague was George Duffield, who remembered his “fantastic” skill as a youngster. “I remember him starting. He was just fantastic as a kid. He had so much confidence and was so bullish about everything he did,” said the Yorkshire-born rider.
“He was so special from day one, which put him apart from everyone else. My best day was actually beating him in the Eclipse. It was a massive feather in my cap to beat someone as talented as he was when I rode Giant’s Causeway.
“He had that fantastic talent where horses wanted to go faster for him more than anyone else. People like him come along every 20, 25 years. The main thing about Pat was he never changed. From the day he started to the day he finished he was the same old Pat, day in, day out. The success never went to his head. He was just one fantastic guy, a star man.”
Eddery won 14 British Classics, including three Derbys aboard Grundy (1975), Golden Fleece (1982) and Quest For Fame (1990). However, his performance aboard Dancing Brave in the 1986 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is regarded as the most memorable of his career. In one of the classiest fields ever assembled, Eddery made his challenge last, down the centre of the track, to snatch victory.
A Giant in a golden era:
See page 9.