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Johnny Roe, former Irish champion jockey, passes away
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Johnny Roe, former Irish champion jockey, passes away
on 25 April 2017
The nine-time flat champion and classic winning jockey passed away peacefully on Sunday

Multiple Irish champion jockey Johnny Roe has passed away at the age of 79.

Roe was one of the most famous names in Irish flat racing in the 1960s and 70s winning the flat championship on nine occasions - 1962-63, 1966-68 and 1971-1975.

Roe began his race riding apprenticeship under Seamus McGrath back in the early 1950s before going on to ride and train over 2,500 winners in over 20 countries.

He started his senior riding career in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) before returning to Ireland where his time riding included many years riding as stable jockey to top trainers, Vincent O'Brien, John Oxx and Dermot Weld.

Johnny Roe pictured at the Irish 2000 Guineas in 2015

Roe won the 1964 Irish 1,000 Guineas on Royal Danseuse for McGrath and the 1967 Irish Oaks on Pampalina for Oxx senior.

In 1975, he recorded a career highlight when riding Nocturnal Spree, trained by Stuart Murless, to win the English 1,000 Guineas.

The filly started at odds of 14/1, with the start of the race delayed for half an hour after a protest by striking stable staff. Nocturnal Spree caught the French-trained filly Girl Friend in the last strides to win by a short-head, with Queen Elizabeth's filly Joking Apart in third and Lester Piggott on the favourite Rose Bowl an unlucky fourth

He also won the 1971 National Stakes on Roberto for Vincent O'Brien and the same race for the Ballydoyle trainer on Chamozzle the following year.

Other big-race wins included three in the Pretty Polly at the Curragh, on Place D'Etoile for Sir Hugh Nugent in 1970, Hurry Harriet for Paddy Mullins in 1973 and Miss Toshiba for Weld in 1975.

Johnny went on to ride with great success in Hong Kong and the US before hanging up his boots and training in Macau for five years. In total, he rode over 2,500 winners in over 20 countries.

He became a bloodstock agent, regularly travelling to the Far East, where he had placed a number of top-class horses, both in Hong Kong and Macau.

Roe, who was predeceased by his daughter Jackie, is survived by his wife Helen and sons Michael and Brian, sister Gaye, brothers Míceal and Norman.

Trainer John Oxx told the Irish Times: "He was a very good stable jockey, a very good rider and a very decent fellow, Johnny. Himself and my father had a great relationship, and he rode winner after winner.

"Johnny would go all over the country in those days, looking for winners, and the roads were a lot different then. But he was always in the yard the following morning."

Funeral arrangements are as follows.

Reposing at Thomas Murphy & Sons Funeral Home, Boghall Road, Bray on Tuesday evening, April 25th, from 6pm to 8pm with evening prayers at 7.40pm. Funeral Mass on Wednesday morning, 26th April, at 10am in St. Mary’s Church, Sandyford Village followed by interment in St. Mochonog’s Cemetery, Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow.

No flowers by request. Donations, if desired, to Irish Injured Jockeys.

READ THE OBITUARY BY GUY WILLIAMS IN THE IRISH FIELD NEXT WEEKEND

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