A huge crowd gathered in Manister, co. Limerick last Friday to pay their final respects to JT McNamara who died on Monday.
The amateur jockey was paralysed from the neck down in a fall at the 2013 cheltenham Festival and his wife caroline paid a touching tribute to her husband, who was 41 when he passed away, leaving his three children Dylan, Harry and Olivia.
“To me he was John. To people in racing he was JT and to his parents he was John Thomas. he could be quite grumpy at home but he was very well liked by everyone. He could be very direct and I remember when I was in labour having our second son, Harry, he was worried by how long it might take as he needed to be at Punchestown the same day. I’m not sure which made him more delighted – the winner he rode at Punchestown or harry’s arrival.
“I only recently learned that the one person he was afraid of was me. It’s a pity I wasn’t aware of that as I could have used it to advantage and had a few more wins myself.”
She paid special thanks to the Irish Injured Jockeys, the Turf club and the Injured Jockeys Fund (UK). “without them we wouldn’t have been able to bring John back from England after his fall,” she said.
There was a tribute to McNamara at Galway races following news of his death and among those at the funeral were AP Mccoy, ruby walsh, Barry Geraghty and davy russell, along with Jonjo O’Neill and JP McManus.
On the day he found out about his death Mccoy said that he was not able to stop crying, but also mentioned that McNamara’s death would not be in vain as his legacy would help other injured jockeys in the future.
“JP’s right about that. his life, it hasn’t been lost in vain,” the retired jockey said. “A lot of good came out of it. A lot of people got brought together. “The welfare and care of jockeys will hopefully be even better.
“It always has been good and always has been improving and it raises the awareness of how dangerous a sport this can be.” Ruby Walsh said:
“He and his family have had three and a half very tough years, and he has fought an unbelievable battle. Most people wouldn’t have survived the fall but it’s testament to the sheer mental and physical strength JT possessed.
“And his wife, Caroline, and his family have shown that same strength. Caroline’s attitude has been incredible. She has been surrounded by a lot of good people, has had plenty of support from friends and family, but she has a young family, and has done everything to keep the wheels on the bicycle.
“She is an incredible woman, as he was an incredible man.”