Former champion jockey Joe Mercer – the man who rode the legendary Brigadier Gerard in his memorable 37-year career – dies aged 86
- Joe Mercer, the ‘ultimate’ former champion jockey, has died at the age of 86
- Bradford-born Mercer had memorably rode the legendary Brigadier Gerard
- Mercer also took part in two of the most significant races in the sport’s history
Joe Mercer, champion jockey in 1979 and the man who rode the legendary Brigadier Gerard, has died at the age of 86.
Mercer and Brigadier Gerard won 17 of their 18 races together.
The Bradford-born jockey took part in two of the most significant races in the sport’s history.
Joe Mercer, champion jockey in 1979 and the man who rode Brigadier Gerard, has died at 86
His 1971 victory on Brigadier Gerard from Mill Reef is regarded one of the greatest 2,000 Guineas ever run, while Mercer partnered runner-up Bustino behind Pat Eddery-ridden Grundy in the epic running of the 1975 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot that became known as the Race of the Century.
Other great horses Mercer was associated with included Henry Cecil’s champion miler Kris, Henry Candy’s 1983 King George winner Time Charter and The Queen’s Dick Hern-trained Highclere, who won the 1,000 Guineas and French Oaks in 1974.
Mercer, who was champion apprentice in 1952, rode 2,810 winners which included eight British Classics in a 37-year career before his retirement in 1985.
Bradford-born Mercer and Brigadier Gerard (pictured) had won 17 of their 18 races together
Colleague Willie Carson said: ‘Joe was the ultimate jockey. He was liked by everyone, he wasn’t aggressive in any way.
‘In the weighing room he was everybody’s friend. You could see Joe sitting in the corner with a pipe in his mouth, puffing away.’
After he stopped riding, ‘Smokin Joe’ became racing manager for the late Sheik Maktoum Al Maktoum and other top owners until 2006.