[This is the first of a series of articles by Epsom Ace on top saddle artists of the past, some of whom have ridden in India with great success. They may not be donning silks any longer but will always be remembered for the joy they brought to the track in this country, in Europe and across the Atlantic.]
Irishman Pat Eddery was born in 1952. While his record in Britain was admirable, it was his incredible success in France that caught the attention of one of Europe’s leading owners Prince Khalid Bin Abdullah and he was ultimately retained by the royal.
Pat Eddery won the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe four times in eight years – a stunning feat unequalled by none, including the greatest of greats, Lester Piggott.
In 1980, Eddery won his first ‘Arc’ on Detroit, trained by Frenchman Oliver Douieb and owned by Vincent Obrien’s powerful syndicate member Robert Sangster. Two years later, Eddery scored for O’Brien in the Epsom Derby (O’Brien’s sixth) with Golden Fleece. In 1985, he scored in Longchamp for his second L’Arc de Triomphe astride Jeremy Tree’s Rainbow Quest.
Though, he was riding with great success in Europe, Eddery was also in demand in America. In 1985, he rode Pebbles to victory in the Breeders Cup Champion Stakes at Aqueduct.
1987 was perhaps the year that immortalized Pat Eddery. His partnership with the unfortunate Epsom Derby loser Dancing Brave created waves across the globe. Eddery rode this giant of a horse to victory in King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and produced the ride of his life to bag the ‘Arc’ that year with this very colt. Dancing Brave devoured ground in the final furlong to land the spoils in Paris. The great victory led to Calcutta’s very own Brave Dancer being named after him.
The roan emulated his icon’s feat in this country with some brilliant wins.
The very next year, Eddery was back in Longchamp and he made no mistake astride Trmpolino for his fourth Arc de Triomphe in eight years.
Though there were no O’brien runners in the Ascot meeting of 1986, Eddery was booked in all 24 races, and won six of them. It was the era in which another great rider, Steve Cauthen, was proving to be Eddery’s nemesis.
However, in 1988, there was no stopping Eddery.
He picked up winners as easy as pebbles and completed a century from 480 odd rides – which was a great strike rate. Without a challenge from the injured Cauthen, Eddery was flying high with 183 winners, well clear of his closest rival Willie Carson. Eddery deserved the jockeys’ crown that year with his superb display.
Some of the other classic winners which Eddery rode are Lomond (1983) and El Gran Senor (1984) in the 2000 Guineas, Polygamy (1974) and Scintillate (1979) in the Oaks, Moon Madness (1986) in the St Leger, King’s lake (1981) in the Irish 2000 Guineas, El Gran Senor (1984) and Law Society (1985) in the Irish Derby, Color Spin (1986) in the Irish Soaks and Leading Counsel (1985) in the Irish St Leger.