The racing world is to say its goodbyes to former champion jockey JT McNamara at his funeral in his native Manister, Co Limerick, today.
The legendary jockey, who rode 600 winners in a sterling career, was left paralysed from a horrific fall at Cheltenham in 2013.
The 41-year-old father of three, who continued training horses after sustaining the life-changing injuries, passed away on Tuesday, surrounded by his wife Caroline and his family at his home in Toureen, Croom.
Tributes poured in from the elite of the world’s racing community, since news broke of his sad passing.
Very Rev Canon Gary Bluett, a retired parish priest of Manister, who spoke with his ailing friend shortly before his untimely death, will concelebrate the funeral Mass at 11am.
“He was a genius with horses,” Fr Bluett said, paying a personal tribute last night.
“He was always very honest and straightforward, and what you saw was what you got.”
Fr Bluett described McNamara as “a great family man” who had racing “in his blood”.
“It’s a terrible tragedy. He fought all the time during his illness,” said Fr Bluett. “He got a special wheelchair and he could go from his home to his yard — he was training horses. He was only out there last Saturday night, giving orders.
“I’ll remember him as a young man who always cared for his family, who had a passion about his racing.
“He was a shining light, and a very good friend.”
Fr Bluett received his friend’s remains in an oak coffin at St Michael’s Church, Manister, on the beginning of his final furlong.
Regarded as one of the very best riders of his generation, the Co Limerick jockey will be laid to rest in his local cemetery in Manister.
The McNamara family has requested family flowers only at his funeral, with any donations to go to the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund.
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