Former top jockey, Paul Eddery, from County Kildare, was taken into custody in El Paso, Texas, by immigration officials on March 23. Supporters have created a Facebook page campaigning for his release. He is brother of Pat Eddery one of the most successful jockeys ever.

Eddery, who was formerly based in Britain and more recently has worked as an exercise rider in south California. Eddery had been visiting Sunland Park, for the Sunland Park Derby, when he was taken into custody. According to his supporters' Facebook page he was arrested over issues relating to his visa. The page calls on the public to contact congress members to pressure immigration officials for the jockey’s release.

The 51-year-old jockey had been at Sunland Park with Firing Line, the colt who won the Sunland Derby. The horse is trained by Simon Callaghan. According to the Daily Racing Form Callaghan declined to comment on the situation on Sunday (March 30).

It is not clear how long Eddery could be in custody or if he could be allowed to remain in the United States upon his release. Some of his friends from the Santa Anita stable area said they are concerned he could be held for an undetermined period.

His fiancée, writing on the Facebook page, also complained about his situation. She wrote:

“He was immediately processed and brought to a minimum security prison, where he is wearing a blue jump suit, has a soldier-like daily routine, is only allowed outside for two 30 minute increments, and makes calls collect from 1-800 numbers to me.

“There are serious criminals on the other side of the building charged with murder, drug trade, etc.

“Paul has been given the run around: sitting in rooms by himself for hours at a time, having interviews without his lawyer present, only given bread to eat on his first day there.

“There are people stuck in the "detention center" (aka prison) from 2 weeks to 2 years. [sic]”

Eddery retired in 2010. He rode over 1,000 winners around the world, with four at Royal Ascot – the 1985 Windsor Castle on Atall Atall, the 1986 Cork and Orrery Stakes on Sperry, the 1994 Jersey Stakes on Gneiss, and the 1995 Queen Alexandra Stakes on Cuff Link.

In 1987 he was second in the English Derby with Most Welcome. He went on to ride the same horse winning the 1989 Lockinge Stakes. Other major wins in Britain included the 1982 Ayr Gold Cup on Famous Star, and the 1983 Northumberland Plate on Weaver’s Pin.

The County Kildare jockey was closely allied with trainers Henry Cecil, Reg Hollinshead, Peter Walwyn, and, Geoff Wragg. Eddery’s older brother, Pat, was an 11-time champion jockey in England.

For more information on the campaign for his release click here.

Irish jockey, Paul Eddery, has been arrested by immigration police in El Paso, Texas.Flickr