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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 9 March 2021

UAE horse racing pioneer Pat Buckley dies age 77

Jockeys will wear black armbands in memory of affable Irishman

Pat Buckley, racing director of Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, passed away on Thursday. Erika Rasmussen for The National
Pat Buckley, racing director of Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, passed away on Thursday. Erika Rasmussen for The National

UAE horse racing lost one of its most successful and adored personalities on Thursday with the news that Pat Buckley died age 77 following a long illness.

A Grand National winner on Ayala in 1963, Buckley pioneered the racing industry in both Oman and the UAE. He was the racing director of Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club since its inception in 1991.

Abu Dhabi host their ninth meeting on Sunday, the first time without the affable Irishman.

“The jockeys will wear black armbands and it will have a solemn meeting to remember him,” Kim Elliott, director general of Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club said.

“Pat has only just passed away and it wouldn’t be correct to do anything at present. Obviously we plan to do something for him in the future by dedicating a race for him.”

Buckley was a horse racing encyclopedia known for his passion, commitment and dedication.

A jovial and friendly person, Buckley had many admirable traits. He was always happy to help, whether it be with racing information or statistics.

Buckley was remembered fondly by the UAE racing fraternity following the news of his death, with tributes pouring in for a man admired for his horsemanship, generosity and racing knowledge.

He began his journey as an apprentice to Captain Neville Crump after leaving Ireland in 1957. His finest moment in the saddle came when rode Ayala to success at Aintree for Keith Piggott, father of Lester, as a 19-year-old.

Buckley also won the Whitbread Gold Cup in 1963 and 1964 on Hoodwinked and Dormant and the 1968 Scottish Grand National on Arcturus.

After retiring from riding, Buckley travelled to Oman in 1978 where he spent 10 years helping the local Jockey Club establish a racecourse and equestrian facility. He was then asked to help in the creation of a racing industry in Abu Dhabi, moving to the country in 1990.

Buckley oversaw the first meeting at Abu Dhabi in 1991 and played a key part in the first running of the Dubai World Cup in 1996.

He is survived by his wife Sarah and children Helen and Kevin.

Sunday's six-race card in Abu Dhabi is highlighted by the Listed Arabian Triple Crown Round 1.

The Triple Crown is for four-year-old Purebred Arabians and the first of the three in the race series.

Heading the 10-runner field is Abdallah Al Hammadi’s Hameem, undefeated in four starts, including twice over the track and trip.

Adrie de Vries who was in the saddle in his last three starts retains the ride on the Valiant Boy colt.

“He is a very smart Purebred Arabian and has improved with each race, getting more professional all the time,” De Vries said.

“This is the obvious next stepping stone for him as he embarks on what could hopefully be a very good career.”

Also trained by Al Hammadi is Ottoman, a convincing winner of an Al Ain 1,600m maiden on his second start.

He has since finished second in all three subsequent outings, and ran behind Hameem in his second last start.

Challenging Al Hammadi’s pair for the prize is Eric Lemartinel’s Mujeeb. He has won twice in three starts, including the Listed Abu Dhabi Championship over the track and trip three weeks ago.

Ernst Oertel is double-handed with AF Alajaj, an impressive winner on debut and the choice of stable jockey Tadhg O’Shea, and AF Thayer with Antonio Fresu atop.

Published: February 6, 2021 03:36 PM

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