The sad passing of Pat Eddery this week has rocked the world of horse racing, and fans of the sport have been left mourning the death of a true great. Described as a “natural horseman” by his friend and long term rival Lestor Piggott, he made his mark by winning events including the Epsom Derby, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth stakes, and perhaps most memorably, the 1986 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe aboard Dancing Brave.
That said, it’s hard to choose a highlight from a career that included over 4,600 winning runs, including 14 British classics over the course of a 36-year career – but he was a man who never let his competitive streak follow him off the course. He was as well-liked as a man as he was respected as an athlete, and over the last 24 hours a number of notable characters in the sport, including Bruce Raymond and Cornelius Lysaght, have come out to publicly express their sadness at his untimely death.
His career record will of course take some beating, but one of his favourite meetings – the Cheltenham Festival, whose date has been announced here – is something to look forward to. Coming up in March, the event looks set to be as thrilling as ever and with key races including the RSA Steeplechase on the 16th and the Ryanair chase on the 17th, there’s will be plenty to look forward to even without the great man being in attendance.
Boasting a field that even the great Pat Eddery would have been proud to be counted among, as well as the world-renowned Ladies Day on the Wednesday, the event is key occasion on the sport’s calendar. Last year’s event saw trainer Willie Mullins on the verge of securing a historic four-timer before Ruby Walsh aboard Annie Power cruelly fell at the last hurdle to undermine the good work done by Douvan, Faugheen and Un De Sceaux the previous day.
This year Mullins will be hoping for a similar run of success – albeit without the tragic late twist – and if one of his horses catches your eye (Minella Foru is well-fancied by AP McCoy) Bookies.com offers an excellent price comparison service that ensures you not only get the best odds available, but also that you limit your personal risk by choosing the firm with the most generous free bet offer.
With a hefty free first bet and the best up-to-the minute odds being offered on what’s sure to be a series of exciting races, if you’ve not placed a bet on racing before, then why not toast Eddery’s passing in the most fitting way possible? As one door closes, a window opens – and with a free bet to commemorate the event, Cheltenham represents an excellent opportunity to celebrate the great man’s favourite event by making it your own