Horse racing-'Race of the Century' jockey Mercer dies at 86

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FILE PHOTO: Former champion jockey Joe Mercer

(Reuters) - Joe Mercer, the jockey who finished runner-up at the 1975 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, often referred to as the "Race of the Century", has died aged 86, British media reported on Monday.

Riding Bustino, Mercer finished second to Grundy -- ridden by Pat Eddery -- by half a length despite being four lengths clear at the start of the final straight.

Nicknamed 'Smokin' Joe', Mercer rode 2,810 winners in 36 seasons as a jockey and won eight British Classics, including the 2,000 Guineas in 1971 with the renowned Brigadier Gerard, who he rode to 17 victories in 18 races.

Mercer, who was champion jockey in 1979, was honoured with an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in 1980.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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