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Pat McCarron, two-time Grand National runner-up, dies at 82

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Pat McCarron

Pat McCarron

Pat McCarron won 244 times over jumps and 44 times on the flat in his illustrious racing career

Pat McCarron won 244 times over jumps and 44 times on the flat in his illustrious racing career

Pat McCarron

Jockey Pat McCarron, a five times Grand National competitor and later a campaigner on behalf of injured riders, has died aged 82.

The jockey, who won 244 times over jumps, managed to ride his most famous mount - Freddie - to two second place finishes at Aintree in the 1960s.

Originally from Londonderry, Mr McCarron died at his home in Darlington.

He was forced to retire in 1972 following a fall in which he fractured his skull, an injury linked to the epilepsy he suffered later. He went on to campaign for safer helmets and was involved in the Injured Jockeys Fund.

Mr McCarron, who is survived by his wife Maureen and daughters Tracey and Sally, had horse racing in his blood and was first placed in a saddle aged three by his father, a riding school owner.

He was just 15 when he moved to North Yorkshire as an apprentice. Following a 44-win career on the flat, he began to ride over hurdles in 1961.

Notable triumphs in an 11-year jump career included the Champion Hurdle, the Princess Royal Hurdle and Cheltenham Trial Hurdle. He came closest to Grand National victory when he and Freddie finished second to Jay Trump in 1965, and Anglo the following year.

Recalling the 1965 race, the jockey said: "Freddie was the bravest horse I ever sat on. Very intelligent. He was carrying 11 stone 7 yet it was not until halfway that he was beaten.

"I thought I was going to win but Tommy Smith on Jay Trump stopped riding through sheer tiredness and as soon as he did this, his horse started to run again."

He retired aged 34 following a fall at Becher's Brook during the 1972 National. It was the third time that he had suffered a fractured skull.

"He appeared on TV to promote it (a new safer helmet) and they did manage to get more safety brought in," Mrs McCarron previously recalled.

The Derryman went on to run a successful haulage company for 30 years with his wife.

Belfast Telegraph