Thursday 19 April 2018

Ballybrit comes to a standstill in tribute to JT

Fellow jockeys pay tribute to JT McNamara in Galway. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Fellow jockeys pay tribute to JT McNamara in Galway. Photo: Steve Humphreys Newsdesk Newsdesk

Dark clouds hung over Galway Racecourse as the horse racing community came together to remember one of their greatest giants.

Punters, riders and trainers alike, still struggling to come to terms with the devastating loss of JT McNamara, held a minute's silence in between the first two races of the day.

As attendees set their race cards and bet slips aside, Ballybrit's festival atmosphere took a back seat as a mark of respect to the Limerick champion.

Meanwhile, racing fans strode from the shelter of tents and bars through the heavy rain and strong winds to pay tribute to JT, whose 600 victories remain the stuff of legend.

With hats removed and placed behind backs, and heads bowed, more than 20 jockeys lined out inside the parade ring to remember their inspirational comrade.

Silence fell among the crowds surrounding the ring.

Blessing themselves as the silence was broken, the jockeys returned to the stables, no doubt remembering the sacrifices that JT himself made for his passion for racing during his career.

Among them were Ruby Walsh, Davy Russell and Jack Kennedy, as well as trainer Willie Mullins.

Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, was among those who came to remember JT in the ring and expressed his condolences to JT's friends and family.

He described the event as a "really sad day" and described JT as a "giant".

"Everyone is in shock," he told the Irish Independent.

"It puts a cloud over Galway, but everyone is thinking of JT's family and his wide circle of friends."

"He was a hero to so many people in the saddle, perhaps even more so as he had his injury and the way he handled it," he added.

"It just shows you how tough and how brave these men and women are, who take all these risks for our sport and our pleasure. He's a giant."

Irish Independent

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