RETIRED JOCKEY Pat Smullen admitted to being ‘overwhelmed’ after more than €2.5 million was raised for Cancer Trials Ireland during Irish Champions Weekend. Nine times Irish Champion Jockey, he was at the centre of a fund raising drive which culminated in the Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland at The Curragh on the Sunday. The mile event captured huge attention and was won by Sir Anthony McCoy riding Quizical for Smullen’s good friends Sheila and John Lavery, while donations have continued to come in to the charity’s website following a memorable weekend. Smullen said: “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, as well as the race sponsors, owners and trainers who made the race possible. “I also want to thank everybody in Horse Racing Ireland for their energy, ideas and encouragement throughout the campaign, the 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.” Smullen, who was forced to retire from the saddle in May due to his own cancer battle, had to miss the race due to a setback in his health, but Eibhlin Mulroe, CEO of Cancer Trials Ireland, paid tribute to his fundraising endeavours. She said: “The generosity of racegoers and people in the racing industry is breathtaking. We really cannot believe what has been made possible. “It is a credit to Pat Smullen’s drive, energy and vision and, of course, the respect and love in which he is held within racing at home and abroad. “These few weeks have been so exciting and what Pat and the team have achieved is potentially game changing. “I want to assure everybody that we will use your kind donations to the best of our ability and immediately put into action those two cancer trials which we hope will make a big difference to people’s lives.”
Brian Kavanagh, CEO Horse Racing Ireland, added: “Pat Smullen achieved so much in his riding career and was a hero of Irish racing in the saddle, but what he has achieved over the past few weeks shows the true measure of the man; Pat’s selfless ability to inspire and lead people gave the entire industry a reason to join together and support an incredibly worthy cause. “The Champions Race he delivered was a moment we will never forget and the tireless fundraising that ran in tandem with it has the ability to change people’s lives. “We owe Pat, and everybody in racing who contributed in to a special weekend, a huge debt of gratitude and the goodwill and best wishes of all of Irish racing are with Pat, his wife Frances, Hannah, Paddy and Sarah.” Among the significant donations was one of €500,000 from Sheikh Hamdan with Sheikh Mohammed also contributing an unspecified considerable sum.