Smullen remains on top of his game
Pat Smullen has been among the upper echelons of the weigh-room for over twenty years now but his best days may still be ahead of him if this season’s exploits are anything to go by. The 37 year old Offaly man reached the landmark of 100 winners for the first time with victory on the progressive Brooch last weekend, a victory made all the more sweeter, as it was for his boss and long time ally Dermot Weld.
Weld had a huge part to play in bringing Smullen to the highest level of the game and one horse in particular can also take credit for thrusting the subsequent six time Champion jockey into the limelight. Vinnie Roe was a special horse and Smullen seemed to have a special rapport with the great stayer, riding him on all but one of his 29 starts, resulting in five Group 1’s, four of them in the Irish Leger from 2001 to 2004.
During this time, Smullen would also ride his first and only 2000 Guineas winner to date on Refuse To Bend in 2003 and also his first Irish Derby win on Grey Swallow in 2004, a horse that would also give him his first of two Tattersalls Gold Cups.
Fast forward to 2014 and Smullen continues to shine on the biggest stages in racing. Fascinating Rock, Mustajeeb and Pale Mimosa have all contributed to this season’s landmark achievement, along with Tarfasha and Free Eagle who must be two of the of the most exciting prospects. Tarfasha very nearly gave Smullen his first Investec Oaks victory and teamed up with Free Eagle to give him two victories on the inaugural Irish Champions Weekend.
This season has also seen Smullen enjoy some big successes on horses outside of the Weld yard. Tracey Collins’ Majestic Queen would supply him with victory in the Ballyogan Stakes, whilst Sabrina Harty’s Ansgar took the Minstrel Stakes and Scream Blue Murder would cause a big surprise in the Phoenix Stakes for Tommy Stack.
The biggest success from outside rides would come with the Ed Lynam trained Anthem Alexander in the Queen Mary Stakes, which, along with Mustajeeb’s Jersey Stakes win, would supply Smullen with one of his most successful Royal Ascot visits.
And so on to Brooch’s victory at Gowran Park at the weekend and Smullen has hit the magical 100 mark with plenty of time to add to the tally further. Only two jockeys have ever hit the century mark in history, Mick Kinane in 2003 and Joseph O’Brien last season, which just goes to show how difficult it is to achieve this landmark when you think of the famous names which have failed to do so.
Smullen continues to be regarded as Mr. Consistent in the weigh-room and is so often the go to man for the big occasion. He is well on the way to becoming a seven time Champion jockey and with the level he has shown this season, there should be many more titles awaiting him in the future.
By Kevin Walsh / John Walton/EMPICS Sport
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