In many countries the name Pat Eddery might not ring too many bells, but in the United Kingdom and his homeland Ireland he was quite famous. The jockey was a horse racing legend. And since everything that has four legs and can be trained is pretty much adored in Britain, this silent man from Newbridge became a star. But Eddery didn’t just excel on the track, the just 1.62 meter tall jockey could knock back large amounts of booze as well. Unfortunately after his racing career he fell into the famous “black hole” as so many great sportsmen and jolly drinking became just drinking. Eddery died age 63 of a heart attack November 2015, left by his family and loved-ones.
Before we start with the better drinking stories, let’s first pay some attention to the great career of Pat Eddery (1952-2015). Growing up in a huge family with 6 brothers and 6 sisters, money was scarce during his childhood. But since Pat’s father was an assistant horse trainer, he learned to ride from a young age. Following his dream to become a jockey Eddery left home and sailed to England without a penny in his pocket at age 14. At the end of his career he had won over 6.000 races worldwide, of which 4.632 in Britain. The Irishman won the famous Epsom Derby three times and the Prix de l’Arce de Triomphe four times. In 11 seasons he was also champion jockey, which means he was the rider who won the most flat races that year.
Once off the track Eddery was usually still leading the race, when knocking back glasses of booze. Even though he was in general a very quiet man, he was no stranger to some drunken fun. The most famous one made the newspapers in 1998, when Eddery was arrested for exposing himself to minors. After winning 3 races at Newbury that day he got piss-drunk on his daughter’s Natasha’s 13th birthday party. When the DJ put on You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate, Eddery started a striptease down to the flesh like in the movie The Full Monty. His audience of 10 to 14 years old was not amused.
Another time Eddery was having quite a large amount of drinks with an old mate in a local pub back in his former hometown Newbridge. It got to the point where they got so drunk, that they were both thrown out of the pub. Unfortunately for the bar owner, Eddery’s friend had a construction and demolition business. The jockey jumped on a bulldozer, drove back to the bar, smashed the front door and the merry times could start again.
Another time Eddery had to prepare a cocktail for the son of a famous horse trainer at a dinner party. He thought it would be funny to mix in some pineapple flavored viagra gel. As a result the victim had to change into a long t-shirt, to cover his equipment and sat cross-legged most of the evening. Eddery nearly died laughing, when the man adressed him in the morning with the words: “I don’t know what you put in those cocktails. but they were bloody strong.”
Unfortunately after the Irishman retired from active racing in 2003 his life went downhill. He started training horses, but wasn’t very succesful. Probably Edderly missed the thrill of riding himself. His family labeled him as an alcoholic and his wife Carolyn divorced him in 2009. When Edderly died of a heart attack in 2015, he had not seen his daughter Natascha for 5 years. The last time was when she took him back from rehab and he started drinking again right away.
After his death his friend and TV presenter Matt Chapman wrote in the newspaper The Sun: “Recently Pat was just a memory. On track he was a skeleton, the fun soaked out of him by the alcohol he consumed. He was ill. I saw it. I did nothing. What could I do? I let Pat down. And if I let Pat down then others probably did as well.”
It’s not up to us to say if the friends and family of Pat Eddery left him too early. The black hole after a life of fame is notorious. World famous astronauts like Yuri Gagarin and Buzz Aldrin tried to fill that hole with alcohol as well. And how many athletes replaced the buzz of fame for the one from the bottle? Beyond saving or not, Edderly worked himself up from one of 13 kids in a poor Irish family to a well-loved star, while doing what he loved best; riding horses and drinking. Cheers Pat!