Ruby Walsh: JT McNamara's passing a tragedy for racing, but much more so for his devoted family

I, like everyone else in racing, was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of John Thomas McNamara.

I knew John Thomas since I started riding. I rode with him as an amateur and, sporadically, against him as a professional. I also worked with him at Enda Bolger’s, so knew him very well. He was a very tough, but fair man. Hard, but gentle. And extremely honest.

What happened to him three and a half years ago in Cheltenham was a disaster for him, for Caroline, and for his entire family.

His eldest son, Dylan, can remember his dad walking out to go to Cheltenham, and not coming back for 14 months. His younger son, Harry, may remember him riding, but his daughter, Olivia, will only ever remember him in a wheelchair. Whatever about his loss to racing, the loss to his family is tragic – absolutely tragic.

He and his family have had three and a half very tough years, and he has fought an unbelievable battle. Most people wouldn’t have survived the fall but it’s testament to the sheer mental and physical strength JT possessed. And his wife, Caroline, and his family have shown that same strength.

Caroline’s attitude has been incredible. She has been surrounded by a lot of good people, has had plenty of support from friends and family, but she has a young family, and has done everything to keep the wheels on the bicycle. She is an incredible woman, as he was an incredible man.

A huge number of people have done an awful lot for him, and he fought for them. He is going to be missed dearly by a lot of people, but my heart goes out to Caroline, Dylan, Harry and Olivia.


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