“It’s hard to forget someone who gave us all so much to remember”
The first thing I think of when I hear the name of John Thomas McNamara is an Irish horse racing legend. I have fond memories of growing up watching him win in the saddle. With over 600 racecourse victories during his magnificent 20-plus year career, he carried home almost every major prize restricted to amateurs as well as many others open to professionals after forming a hugely successful partnership with the Enda Bolger yard, and owner JP McManus.
J.T. as many knew him by, first became a big name in the Point to Point game. In 2002 he became the joint Champion Point to Point jockey with a youthful Davy Russell, McNamara won the first race on the final day of the season to level up their respective wins, in a scene of great sportsmanship both men agreed not to ride again on that card and shared the Jockeys title.
He won five point to point titles in total. The cross-country courses became a favourite of McNamara’s, who had the most wonderful silky touch & skill in the saddle. The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest stage for Jump Jockeys and J.T. enjoyed some fantastic wins there, His winning ride on the reluctant Rith Dubh in the 2002 edition of the Foxhunters chase was sensational. Where an inspired McNamara nursed and cajoled his mount over a Four-mile trip for a most unlikely victory. AP McCoy described his ride as “as good as I have ever seen or will ever see”.
He brought about a professional approach to the amateur riding ranks. He had a superb approach to the Punchestown banks, winning the famous La Touche Cup race on Risk of Thunder in 2005 at the Punchestown Festival. John Thomas was only an amateur in name, he was as good as your McCoy or Walsh in terms of ability, plus he had what all great champions have, Spirit, Courage & the will to win! One of the best amateur riders Ireland will ever produce. He will never be forgotten, so rest easy John Thomas McNamara.
Each happiness of yesterday is a memory for tomorrow. A Brilliant Jockey but an even better Man; John Thomas.