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McCoy hails 'remarkable' JT McNamara

Published 26/07/2016

JT McNamara in full flow in the saddle
JT McNamara in full flow in the saddle

Sir Tony McCoy has described JT McNamara as "a remarkable man" after the death was announced of the former leading amateur rider.

Legendary champion jockey McCoy recalled being in the weighing room at Cheltenham when news of McNamara's fall on Galaxy Rock in the 2013 Kim Muir emerged, an accident which paralysed him for life.

"I remember looking over and seeing his clothes hanging up and thinking 'he'll never be back in here', and that's not something I'll ever forget," McCoy told RTE Radio.

"It's a very sad day for everyone in racing especially his wife Caroline, she's a very tough and amazing woman.

"He was a remarkable man. He was a little bit like me - he could be grumpy enough at times, but was very good humoured. He was fantastic, a brilliant rider. I said this morning that watching his ride on Rith Dubh at the Cheltenham Festival was as good as you'll ever see."

Barry Geraghty, who replaced McCoy as McManus' retained jockey following his retirement, hailed McNamara as a "brilliant fellow".

He said: "It's very sad news and a shock to us all.

"He was a brilliant fellow. He was a brilliant rider, obviously, but he was such a good, fun person and I suppose he showed his true strength having to deal with this injury over the past few years.

"If you visited him, before you'd know it an hour had passed. The conversation always flowed and there was never any self pity. He could hold his own amongst professionals and was better than most. Nothing fazed JT. He was cool as a breeze."

McNamara was initially treated in Britain following the Cheltenham fall that left him paralysed from the neck down before being transferred to the spinal unit of the Mater Hospital, Dublin, and eventually moving to the North West Regional Spinal Injuries Centre in Southport.

He eventually returned to his County Limerick home last June and had begun to establish a training operation at his Croom yard, although he required constant care.

Frankie Ward, regional secretary of point-to-points in Limerick, knew McNamara from a young age and followed his career from ponies to racecourses.

"He was a hero, there's no doubt about it. He was a legend in his own lifetime even though it was a short one," she told Newstalk radio.

"We will all miss him desperately. His colleagues at Galway today will be devastated, but let's celebrate his wonderful life because that's what we should be doing. And I'm sure God has probably got him as first jockey up there this morning."

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