“Pressure is for types” is one of the most memorable quotes from legendry horse racing owner John Patrick (J.P.) McManus, who was Born and raised in Limerick on March 10th, 1951, educated at the Christian Brothers School in Limerick, getting his love and knowledge of horses from his father, Johhny, who kept and bred show-jumpers.
By the age of 9 McManus grasped that his knowledge of horses could pay off. The story is told how, when sitting his Leaving Certificate history exam, his priority was to place a bet on a horse that he fancied. Finishing the exam early, he cycled to the racetrack arriving just in time to see his horse come in first, far too late to place his bet. Even so, although he missed out on his winnings, he did pass his examination, so the day wasn’t a total waste.
Years later, recitation his gambling escapades to the media, McManus stated: “I used to study the horses in the papers and I would always try and have a bet on in the big races. It was a problem, as I was too young to go into a betting office and I wasn’t too tall for my age either.”
JP, as he is known to his friends and followers, began his profession employed in his father’s construction business. But in 1970, when JP almost 20, a £4 bet on Newmarket maiden saw a horse called Linden Tree change his life as he knew it.
Linden Tree romped in at 100/8 and JP came away with a £50 profit, JP reinvested £4 of his winnings on that same horse in the Observer Gold Cup, a bet which returned £100 when it came in at 25/1, and a further fiver each-way at 33/1 on the Derby saw the horse coming up trumps yet again when it came in a close second behind the champion Mill Reef.
Quitting the construction business JP became a bookmaker, setting out his stall at Limerick’s Market Field greyhound track. His success as a bookie soon enabled him to buy his own racehorses and become a big-money punter earning him the nickname “The Sundance Kid” for his huge and mostly winning bets.
At around this time JP also became an accomplished backgammon player and in 1982 he and his wife, former nurse, Noreen, bought 400-acre Martinstown Stud in their beloved County Limerick.
A significant part of his wealth comes from private foreign exchange trading. Currencies are his speciality and, as with horse racing, his bets on currencies are huge. His personal fortune is estimated to be anywhere between 480 and 900 million pounds and at its peak.