He isn’t in the Irish top ten rich lists despite being worth an estimated €2 BILLION. He claimed embarrassment when he received a medal from his home city.

And he famously took Facebook to court over a fake account scam and won. So just who is JP McManus and how has he contributed to horse racing over the years?

In the world of horse racing, few names carry as much weight as JP McManus. This unassuming Irishman has made a name for himself not only as a successful businessman but also as a passionate owner and supporter of the sport.

The Early Years

Born in Limerick on March 10th, 1951, John Patrick (J.P.) McManus was educated at the Christian Brothers School in Limerick, inheriting his love and knowledge of horses from his father, Johnny, who kept show jumpers.

The young McManus also loved a flutter and by the age of nine, he realised that his knowledge of horses could pay off.

The story is told how, when sitting his Leaving Certificate history exam, his priority was to place a bet on a horse that he fancied.

Finishing the exam early, he cycled to the racetrack arriving just in time to see his horse come in first, far too late to place his bet.

Even so, although he missed out on his winnings, he did pass his exam, so the day wasn’t a complete waste.

Years later, describing his early gambling escapades to the Limerick Leader, McManus said:

“I used to study the horses in the papers and I would always try and have a bet on in the big races.

“It was a problem, as I was too young to go into a betting office and I wasn’t too big for my age either.”

Luckily for McManus, crypto horse racing betting wasn’t around at the time or his life could have turned out very differently!.

JP began his career working in his father’s construction business. But in 1970, when JP was almost 20, a £4 bet in a Newmarket maiden saw a horse called Linden Tree change his life forever.

Linden Tree romped in at 100/8 and JP McManus came away with a £50 profit, firing his lifelong obsession with gambling and all things racing.

Construction Worker Turned Bookmaker

JP McManus reinvested £4 of his winnings on that same horse in the Observer Gold Cup, a bet which returned £100 when it came in at 25/1.

A further fiver each-way at 33/1 on the Derby saw the horse coming up trumps yet again when it came in a close second behind the champion Mill Reef.

Quitting the construction business JP became a bookmaker, setting out his stall at Limerick’s Market Field greyhound track.

His success as a bookie soon enabled him to buy his own racehorses and become a big-money punter earning him the nickname “The Sundance Kid” for his huge and mostly winning bets.

At around this time JP McManus also became an accomplished backgammon player and in 1982 he and his wife, former nurse, Noreen, bought 400 acre Martinstown Stud in their beloved County Limerick.

McManus’s first horse was Cill Dara, and from those early beginnings he grew his stable to become National Hunt racing’s largest owner with over 550 horses in training as of 2019.

He’s well known in the racing world to both fans and professionals alike, but even so in many ways he’s something of an enigma.

Winning The Grand National

In 2010 JP McManus’ dream of winning the Grand National was fulfilled by his horse ‘Don’t Push It’ ridden by champion jockey A.P. McCoy.

McManus often has multiple entries in the Aintree race; five runners in 2023 and 2022, six in 2021, the race was cancelled in 2020, and he had three more in 2019.

It’s easy to spot a JP McManus horse, as his jockeys always wear the owner’s distinctive silks – green & gold hoops.

When Don’t Push It was retired after failing to return to form, trainer Jonjo O’Neill said:

“The whole yard, and especially Tony and JP, owe him everything.

“He was also mine and JP’s first National winner and obviously means the world to both of us.”

Thankfully for McManus, that wasn’t his only win in the race.

In 2021, Minella Times rode to victory and into the history books when he crossed the finishing post in the famous silks.

More significantly, it was Rachael Blackmore on board, the first woman to ever ride a Grand National winner and it was with the backing of trainer Henry De Bromhead and owner JP McManus.

Synchronised And That Cheltenham Gold Cup Win

Despite all of his entries and all of his legendary horses, JP McManus has only won the Gold Cup once.

That was with jockey AP McCoy, Synchronised and trainer Jonjo O’Neill on March 16th 2012.

But that joy and celebration was soon forgotten when, a month later, Synchronised ran in the Grand National.

He fell at Becher’s Brook on the first circuit, unseating AP McCoy, and didn’t appear to have sustained serious injury.

He even continued running riderless. But when he attempted to jump the 11th fence, he incurred a fracture of the tibia and fibula. Sadly, the racecourse vets had to euthanise him.

Days later, McManus released a statement and revealed that Synchronised had been buried at Jackdaws Castle.

Outside Of Horse Racing

McManus has had his fingers in a lot of pies over the years and who can forget the days when he used to own a 28.89% stake in Manchester United?

A falling out with Sir Alex Ferguson over the breeding rights to Rock of Gibraltar, a horse they co-owned, led to McManus selling his shares to businessman Malcolm Glazer.

And we all know how that turned out!

But outside of sport, McManus is known locally in his home city of Limerick as a true entrepreneur and philanthropist.

In 1996, he established the JP McManus Scholarship Award, which provides funds each year for eight selected students at his former secondary school in Limerick.

In 2004, he set up ‘Sporting Limerick’ which sponsors Limerick GAA teams. And his backing of the Limerick hurling team has seen them go on to win the All-Ireland title in all of the last four years.

Not content wot supporting his home county, he also donated €100,000 to each GAA county board (€3.2 million in total), to be split evenly among clubs in each county.

He is also a keen golfer and organises the J. P. McManus Invitation Pro-Am golf tournament in Limerick every five years, raising funds for Limerick charities.

It is played at Adare Manor, which he owns, and which will also host the 2027 Ryder Cup.

He also set up the JP Benevolent Fund, which is valued at €40 million. It supports initiatives and charities throughout the Midwest of Ireland.