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McCoy tribute to friend JT McNamara as horse racing world mourns tragic jockey

By Ed Carty

Published 30/07/2016

Mourners carry McNamara’s coffin in Manister yesterday
Mourners carry McNamara’s coffin in Manister yesterday
Robbie Power during the funeral of jockey JT McNamara
Racehorse owner JP McManus
Former champion jockey Tony McCoy at the funeral
JT McNamara

Jockey JT McNamara's life was not lost in vain, Sir Tony McCoy has said.

The funeral took place in Co Limerick yesterday for John Thomas McNamara, who died three years after being paralysed in a racecourse fall.

Hundreds of family, friends and leading figures from the world of racing turned out to pay respects in the village of Manister near the rider's home and stables.

Known as JT to all, including punters, the 41-year-old respected horseman was said to have lived his last years with strength, courage and determination after breaking his neck in a fall at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013.

Sir Tony, a friend and 20-time champion jockey, echoed the sentiments of racehorse owner JP McManus who said his death will ultimately help other injured jockeys.

"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."

The Co Antrim man was among dozens of jockeys, trainers and breeders who gathered at the little white chapel in a part of rural Ireland synonymous with thoroughbred racing and breeding.

A hugely successful amateur and rider of 600 winners, JT's contemporaries considered him to be as skilled a horseman as virtually any professional.

His widow Caroline revealed just how deep those passions ran in a humorous yet moving tribute at the funeral.

"You always knew where you stood with John. He was straight, witty, honest and extremely direct," she said.

Recalling the birth of their second child, son Harry, she said: "He was more concerned on how long the labour would be as he needed to be in Punchestown that afternoon to ride L'Ami."

Mourners openly cried as the young son read a poignant prayer of the faithful.

"Thank you God for my dad," Harry said.

"We ask the angels to take good care of you. We love you dad."

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