Nine-time Irish champion Flat jockey Pat Smullen has died aged 43. 

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March 2018 and retired from the saddle last year. 

Smullen, from Rhode in County Offaly, was a retained rider to leading trainer Dermot Weld for many years and booted home multiple Group One winners, including the victors of 12 European Classics. 

Smullen passed away at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin and is survived by his wife Frances and their children Hannah, Paddy and Sarah.

His charity initiative to raise money for pancreatic cancer trials last year raised a sum in excess of €2.5m.

Born on 22 May, 1977, Smullen became involved with horses early in life, and went on to form a formidable alliance with master trainer Weld, taking over as stable jockey in 1999 from another riding great in Mick Kinane.

Apprenticed to local trainer Tommy Lacy, his earlier years saw him ride for Erwan Charpy in Dubai and he also spent two years with Tommy Stack, who gave him his first Group One winner with Tarascon in the 1997 Moyglare Stud Stakes.

That would be an appropriate one, as many big-race victories came his way in the Moyglare colours so closely associated with Weld, among them Refuse To Bend in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in 2003.

His first Classic was provided by the brilliant stayer Vinnie Roe in the Irish St Leger of 2001. Remarkably, they would win that race three more times in succession.

Ascot Gold Cup glory was gained with Rite Of Passage in 2010, Grey Swallow added the 2005 Tattersalls Gold Cup to his victory in the Irish Derby of 12 months earlier, and there were two Irish 1,000 Guineas wins, with Nightime (2006) and Bethrah (2010).

Casual Conquest (2009) was another Tattersalls Gold Cup winner, while lightly-raced but brilliant Free Eagle came good in the 2015 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot. 

Derby glory at Epsom came his way in 2016 with Harzand, who followed up in the Irish Derby at the Curragh.

Reacting to the sad news, Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: "Pat was one of our greatest stars. He was nine-times champion jockey, but in many ways his greatest achievements were out of the saddle.

"Since his diagnosis, he did wonderful work fundraising for charity and he battled this disease with great heart and it's hard to believe he has passed at such a young age. All our thoughts are with Frances and his three children, Hannah, Paddy and Sarah, and all his friends and colleagues in the weighing room. 

"It’s a really sad day for Irish racing. Pat was one of the finest men you could hope to meet. There’s been such a reaction around Irish racing and such a degree of shock, which shows the high regard in which Pat was held.

"He was a pleasure to have anything to do with – his achievements in the saddle were one thing, but his qualities outside of it were something else.

"He was a global figure in racing, but his reaction to his diagnosis and the fundraising he did last year in particular was really wonderful.

"It’s just a sad, sad day."

President Michael D Higgins expressed his sympathy and said Smullen's "remarkable performances at home and abroad brought joy to so many."