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TV and radio star Clare Balding has paid tribute to champion jockey Pat Smullen, who died yesterday at the age of 43. The 49-year-old presenter informed fans she would “never forget his grace and humour” in a heartfelt tweet, after learning of the “unbearably sad” news of his death.

On social media yesterday, Clare told her 708,000 followers: “This is unbearably sad.”

“Derby winning jockey Pat Smullen was only 43 years old – such a lovely man and a beautiful rider.”

She went on to say: “I will never forget his grace, his loyalty, his humour and his quiet determination.”

“Love and condolences to his family,” the BBC star signed off.

“Lovely words Clare for a true gentleman of the sport and an Inspiration outside of it. RIP Pat,” one follower wrote in the comments section.

“Too young,” added another.

“Pancreatic cancer is cruel, my friend died of this,” a third social media user remarked.

The Irish jockey was diagnosed with the disease over two years ago in March 2018.

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He announced his retirement from the sport in May last year following treatment.

Pat won numerous races throughout his outstanding racing career including the Derby at Epsom 2016 on Irish Thoroughbred racehorse Harzand, and the Irish Derby in the same year.

He died in St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin from pancreatic cancer.

The legendary racer leaves behind his wife, Frances, and their three children.

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