The extent of John Patrick ‘JP’ McManus’s influence on the sport of horse racing can be measured in many ways. His 59 Cheltenham Festival winners, starting with Mister Donovan in 1982, is streets ahead of his nearest rival. He has well over 400 horses in training in Ireland and Britain and owns Jackdaws Castle in Gloucestershire and Martinstown Stud in Co Limerick.
JP has been champion owner in Britain on 10 occasions and occupied the same position in Ireland a remarkable 17 times. He has farmed the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham a record-breaking eight times, won the Gold Cup there with the home-bred Synchronised in 2012, and combined with his great allies Jonjo O’Neill and AP McCoy to win the Grand National a decade ago with Don’t Push It.
He will forever be linked with one of the greatest hurdlers of all time, Istabraq.
A private man, JP works alongside Frank Berry to oversee an empire that during the last National Hunt season saw runners in his familiar green and gold silks carried by runners from 75 different training establishments in Ireland and Britain. An incredible 47 Irish trainers saddled a runner for him last season.
JP purchased his first racehorse at the age of 26. Cill Dara, a daughter of Lord Gayle, won the 1976 Naas November Handicap, trained by Con Collins. The following year, and now in colours that have subsequently graced thousands of winners’ enclosures, she won the Irish Cesarewitch with Christy Roche. She started a hot favourite that day, no doubt with the assistance of a few pounds from the owner!
JP’s love of hurling matches his passion for racing, and the Co Limerick native is renowned for his charitable work. His golf Pro-Am, due to be held later this year, has already raised some €140 million. However, his greatest assets are family, his wife Noreen, children John, Kieran and Sue Ann, and grandchildren. Tonight, JP becomes the latest inductee to the ITBA Hall of Fame.
Michael Conaghan breeder of Novice Hurdler Award winner Paisley Park
Paisley Park captured the imagination of the racing public in no uncertain terms last year. Unbeaten in all his five starts, the son of Oscar was one of the stars of the National Hunt season. Three smooth wins during the Autumn set him up nicely for the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January, where he ran out an impressive 12 lengths winner under regular jockey Aidan Coleman. A short priced favourite for the Stayers Hurdle back at the festival, Paisley Park cemented his reputation as the best LONG DISTANCE hurdler around when staying on up the hill for a resounding victory at the line. It was a fairytale success for his popular connections; owner Andrew Gemmell; trainer Emma Lavelle and Barry Fenton. Paisley Park was bred at the Evergreen stud in County Limerick by Michael Conaghan and he looks sure to provide his breeder and connections with many more exciting days in the future.