OVER €2.5 million was collected during Irish Champions Weekend for the cancer trials charity promoted by Pat Smullen.
Smullen led the drive by asking nine former champion jockeys to come out of retirement to ride in a Champions Race at the Curragh last Sunday. Sponsorships and donations flooded in, and the total raised was boosted by a gala dinner and online auction of over 120 special items, donated mainly by people within the sport.
Yesterday Smullen said he was “overwhelmed” by the sum generated. “I never dreamed that we would reach a figure like this and it is a tribute to the kind nature of everyone in the racing and breeding industry – I am overwhelmed! Sunday at the Curragh was a special day and a huge thank you to everybody who came along. I don’t think we’ll ever see a race like that again and I owe so much to my good friends, the nine champion jockeys, who came out of retirement to ride in it, as well as the race sponsors, owners and trainers who made the race possible.
“I also want to thank everybody in Horse Racing Ireland for their energy, ideas and encouragement
throughout the campaign, the Longines Irish Champions Weekend committee, the Curragh, Leopardstown and the IHRB, the media, all the volunteers and everybody who played a role in helping us achieve our goals.
“Having worked with the team in Cancer Trials Ireland, I am excited with how they can make your donations work to give hope to those families affected by cancer. A sincere thank you to one and all.”
Eibhlín Mulroe of Cancer Trials Ireland said: “The generosity of racegoers and people in the racing industry is breathtaking. We really cannot believe what has been made possible. It is a credit to Pat Smullen’s drive, energy and vision and, of course, the respect and love in which he is held within racing at home and abroad.
“These few weeks have been so exciting and what Pat and the team have achieved is potentially game-changing. I want to assure everybody that we will use your kind donations to the best of our ability and immediately put into action those two cancer trials which we hope will make a big difference to people’s lives.”
HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: “Pat’s selfless ability to inspire and lead people gave the entire industry a reason to join together and support an incredibly worthy cause. The Champions Race he delivered on Sunday was one of those moments we will never forget, and the tireless fundraising that ran in tandem with it has the ability to change people’s lives. We owe Pat – and everybody in racing who contributed in any way to a special weekend – a huge debt of gratitude and the goodwill and best wishes of all of Irish racing are with Pat, Frances, Hannah, Paddy and Sarah.”