‘Nothing will replace race riding for me’: Champion jockey Pat Smullen retires on medical advice

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Nine-time Irish flat champion jockey Pat Smullen has retired from racing on medical advice.

The Offaly man, who counts both the Epsom and Irish Derbies among his 12 Classic victories, has recently completed treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Smullen says the decision is “a sad one” but it is a case of putting his health and family first.

The 41-year-old has been out of action since March 2018 following the discovery of a tumour.

Writing in his weekly column for Thoroghbred Daily News, the jockey said that his doctors advised that he “should not compromise his immune system in any way”.

On this advice, Smullen made the difficult decision.

'Nothing will replace race riding for me': Champion jockey Pat Smullen retires on medical advice

“I don’t want to make a huge deal of it but it’s been a tough year and it has taken its toll on my body,” Smullen said.

“I had two surgeries and when I recovered from that I had to then face another round of chemotherapy treatment.

“It was tough going but it has all been worthwhile and thankfully it has gone very well.”

He said that race riding had been “everything to me through my life” and although he had hoped to return he had promised himself that if he could not get back to the level he had been at before his illness then he wouldn’t return.

“Whatever has gone in the past in my career, and I like to think I achieved a little bit, this was the biggest achievement of all, getting through this, and I definitely now see life from a different perspective,” said Smullen.

I can never be thankful enough to the medical people who have given me a second chance at life.

Smullen will not be retiring from horses entirely as he said that he is determined that he will still work within the industry.

He also said that he is not prepared to stop riding horses and hopes to be able to ride out in the mornings.

He thanked his family and friends saying of his wife, Frances: “You can’t ask for more from one person than what she has given me.”

Although the decision has been “sad and difficult” for Smullen, he said that he is content with his choice.

“While nothing will replace race riding for me, it’s time to move on. It’s the right thing for me, it’s the right thing for my family and, most importantly, it’s the right thing for my health.

“I’ve been very fortunate, I’m content with the decision and I’m looking forward to being able to contribute and give something back to the industry in some shape or form.”

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