Awarded an OBE for his contribution in the sporting world, ‘Smokin’’ Joe Mercer is a retired and well decorated flat racing champion racehorse jockey, having ridden over 2,800 winners in a career spanning more than 20 years. They include winners in the Epsom Oaks, the Irish Derby, the Prix de Diane and the Irish St Leger amongst others.
His career began in the early fifties, when he gained an apprenticeship with Frederick Sneyd, a move that let to his first British Classic, the 1953 Epsom Oaks on Ambiguity. It was eventful 2 years for the young jockey, as he became British flat racing apprentice champion in both 1952 and 1953. Over the next few years, he worked for a number of big names in the sport that included Peter Walwyn, Jack Colling, Dick Hern and Henry Cecil.
It was during his time with Henry Cecil that Joe Mercer one his one and only British flat racing champion jockey title in 1979. The most notable horse he rode during his time as a jockey was Brigadier Gerard who only lost one of his 18 races in a two year period between 70 and 72.
He called time on his jockey career at the end of 1985, going on to work as an jockey’s agent. This was for just 2 years and ended when a lucrative job offer came from Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum as a racing manager. He remained in this role for almost 20 years before retiring from the sport at the beginning of 2006.