Renowned amateur rider JT McNamara dies aged 41

John Thomas McNamara

John Thomas McNamara: was renowned for his exploits as an amateur

  PICTURE: Patrick McCann (  

 By Tony McFadden 8:30AM 26 JUL 2016 

JOHN THOMAS McNAMARA, the former leading Irish amateur rider, has died at the age of 41.

McNamara, who was widely considered to be one of the leading amateur riders of his generation, was paralysed after suffering a broken neck after a fall on Galaxy Rock at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.


It was 15 months before McNamara was able to return home from Southport hospital. He was paralysed from the neck down but gained many admirers for his courage in the face of adversity.

As a rider, McNamara will be remembered by many for his ice-cool performance aboard the tricky Rith Dubh in the 2002 National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. His patience and horsemanship came to the fore as he coaxed his recalcitrant partner ahead on the line.

He also won the National Hunt Chase in 2012 aboard Teaforthree, the Foxhunter Chase in 2007 on Drombeag and the 2005 Cross Country Chase on Spot Thedifference.

‘The greatest horseman’

McNamara was a popular figure within racing and leading figures within the sport paid tribute on Tuesday morning.

Trainer David Pipe tweeted: “Terribly sad news. Sincerest condolences to friends and family.”

Jonjo O’Neill, trainer of Rith Dubh and a good friend of JT, said: “We’re devastated at Jackdaws to hear of the passing of JT, the greatest horseman I’ve ever known. Our thoughts are with Caroline and family.”

Colman Sweeney, himself a top amateur rider and winner of the Foxhunter Chase at Cheltenham, said: “I’m shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of JT. I’m blessed to have known him. Thoughts and prayers are with his family, RIP JTMC.”

Senior Turf Club medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick, speaking on behalf of the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase committee, said: “I would like to offer our sincerest sympathy to his wife Caroline and their children Dylan, Harry and Olivia on their sad loss. Our prayers and thoughts are with them and with John Thomas and Caroline’s extended families at this time.”

JT is survived by his wife Caroline, two sons, Dylan and Harry, and daughter Olivia.

Jockeys’ Cheltenham tribute for JT

JT McNamara’s weighing room colleagues penned their own tribute to recall his wins at Cheltenham.

It sits above the peg where McNamara used to get changed at Cheltenham.


The plaque at Cheltenham commemorating JT’s achievements

  PICTURE: Cheltenham racecourse 

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