Pat Smullen will return to the saddle this September. It will be a one-off for the Derby-winning jockey who retired this year due to a battle with cancer.
The nine-time champion jockey will get the leg up for the first time on a racecourse in public since March 2018. Smullen will ride in the 'Pat Smullen Champions Race For Cancer Trials Ireland' on day two of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend.
Smullen was earlier this summer announced as the ambassador for Longines Irish Champions Weekend. Now he will give fans the chance to see him back on the track where he famously rode nine Classic winners.
As well as promoting the leading Flat meeting in Ireland, the Offalyman is hoping to raise much-needed funds for Cancer Trials Ireland. The former champion jockey had a highly publicised battle with pancreatic cancer following a diagnosis in March 2018.
“I think most people are aware of what I and my family went through last year and I am indebted to the brilliant people who looked after me in St Vincent’s Hospital. I want to try in some way to repay them and would dearly love the support of everybody in raising money to help fund vital cancer research, and this exciting champions race is one of a number of fundraising activities over the weekend.”
Offtheball caught up with Smullen in a frank interview at his Brickfield Stud earlier this year.
The race will be a 10-runner event run over a straight mile at the Curragh on day two of Longines Irish Champions Weekend. Smullen will take one of the 10 rider slots and will later this week announce the other nine.
“We want to put on a real show on Longines Irish Champions Weekend at the Curragh and bring together a group of former champions that are sure to be as competitive today as they were throughout their careers,” says Smullen, himself a nine-time champion rider in Ireland.
“I’ve had a tremendous reaction from my former colleagues and they’ve all been incredibly supportive. This race may be for charity but every one of these guys was ruthlessly competitive in the saddle and I’d have my doubts that time has dimmed that ambition!”
The Pat Smullen Champions Race for Cancer Trials Ireland will be run after the Comer Group International Irish St Leger, the feature race on day two of the Longines Irish Champions Weekend.