Belfast Telegraph

AP's tears after death of jockey pal hurt in 2013 fall

By Adrian Rutherford

Sir Tony McCoy has told how he cried for hours after learning of the death of a jockey paralysed in a fall at the Cheltenham Festival three years ago.

JT McNamara "passed away peacefully during the night" at the age of 41, the Irish Turf Club confirmed yesterday.

The father-of-three was a leading amateur rider before his accident, having partnered more than 600 winners during his career, including four at Cheltenham.

But he fractured two vertebrae in his neck after being thrown from his horse in March 2013.

Dr Adrian McGoldrick, senior medical officer for the Irish Turf Club, confirmed McNamara passed away peacefully on Monday night.

He is survived by his wife, Caroline, and children Dylan, Harry and Olivia.

Leading the tributes, Moneyglass rider McCoy told RTE: "I've done nothing but cry all morning. 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.

"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."

McNamara, from Limerick, was badly hurt when his mount Galaxy Rock fell at the first fence in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.

He was initially treated in Britain before being transferred to the spinal unit of the Mater Hospital in Dublin. He was later moved to the North West Regional Spinal Injuries Centre in Southport.

Last June he returned to his Co Limerick home and had begun to establish a training operation at his Croom yard, although he required constant care.

In a 2015 interview his wife said: "Our lives have changed enormously but I can look beyond his disabilities."

Yesterday, tributes continued to pour in for McNamara. His racing manager, Frank Berry, said: "It's so sad and all our thoughts go out to Caroline and the rest of the family.

"A nicer fellow you couldn't wish to meet. He was in great form up until maybe a week ago and he's definitely been a fighter. He fought a great fight.

"The boss and him and myself had so many great days together."

Belfast Telegraph


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