NINE-TIME Irish champion flat jockey between 1963 and 1974, Johnny Roe began life as the sickly son of a monument sculptor from the Dublin foothills. His initial interest in racing was inspired by the standard of living it appeared to offer those associated with Seamus McGrath’s stable in nearby Glencairn. Taken on trial and taught the rudiments of riding through trial and error, Johnny opened his account on Chosen Star at Naas in May 1954, having spent the first part of his riding career in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

The natural lightweight’s style in the saddle had its detractors then and subsequently, though all were unanimous in saying that ‘horses ran for Johnny’.