Frankie Dettori salutes 'absolute professional' Pat Smullen

‘He is a great man in every way – a true gentleman’

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Frankie Dettori hailed Pat Smullen an “absolute professional” after the nine-times Irish champion jockey announced his retirement from the saddle.

Smullen, 41, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March of last year and while his recovery has gone well after undergoing treatment, he called time on his stellar riding career on Tuesday following advice from doctors.

Dettori shared the weighing room with Smullen for over two decades and was fulsome in his praise of both the rider and the man.

He told Press Association Sport: “I’ve known Pat for 25 years and I’ve travelled the world with him. He is a great man in every way – a true gentleman.

“He is 100 per cent professional and was a great rider. He won almost everything there is to win, including the Epsom Derby.

“He has won the biggest battle of them all at the moment and I’m sure I will keep in touch with him, as he is a great friend and we will miss him as a rider. It takes a man of great courage and bravery to go through what he has gone through.”

He added: “He had everything as a rider. He had a good tactical brain and was very strong and polished. He did everything correctly and didn’t do anything dirty, he was just an absolute professional.

“He never got upset or started shouting at people – he was well polished as a person.”

Dettori pointed to Smullen’s Epsom success on the Dermot Weld-trained and Aga Khan-owned Harzand as a standout moment.

He said: “It is everybody’s dream to win the Derby – to win it for the Aga Khan must have been pretty special and that is the ride that stands out for me. He has won nine champion jockey titles, which is also amazing.

“As a friend I’m pleased he is still with us, as a year ago things didn’t look great and when you have known someone for so long you are scared for them. He didn’t stop (riding) on his one terms, but at least he is still with us.

“Pat put me on my ride in the Derby last year (Hazapour) and I’ve been keeping close tabs and seeing how he has been doing.

“He has been through all sorts and while we all wanted him back as a rider, if the doctors are saying he can’t then he has made the right decision.

“He had big boots to fill in Michael Kinane’s, but he did fill those boots and I’m sure Michael is proud of what he has done.

“I can see him moving into a managerial role for one of the big owners he has ridden for, as he is a complete all-round professional who knows the game inside out.”

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