Young Tommy Stack
on his first winner New Money
At the age of twelve, he went to Mungret College in Limerick. There he played rugby and played at scrum-half on the Munster schoolboys’ team. Here also he met two racing people – the future jockey, Barry Brogan and the future trainer, Bobby Barry. Tommy hoped to join the army equitation team, but was not accepted at his interview.
returned home to work on the farm for a while and then went to Dublin,
where he joined the Phoenix Assurance Company. Tommy had become
close friends with Barry Brogan and would go to his father’s stables
at weekends to ‘ride out’. He modeled himself on Pat Taffe and Bobby
Shortly after, Barry Brogan’s father died and Barry took over the training. A few months later, Barry had to sack his lead lad. He had three runners in Liverpool and would have to be away all week. He asked Tommy to take a week off work and act as lead lad. Tommy accepted and like the work so much, that he decided to give up his insurance job.
He wrote to ten trainers in England, offering to work for free for the chance to become a jockey. He got only one reply – from Captain Neville Crump, who regretted he could not help him.
However, Tommy’s brother-in-law was a butcher and sold cattle to Bobby Renton f Ripon, who was a trainer. He wrote to Mr. Renton on Tommy’s behalf. Mr. Renton agreed to come to Dublin to interview Tommy and this was the start of a great career. His first win as an amateur was on October 16, 1965 on a horse called “New Money” at Weatherby.
He spent a short time as a trainer when, one of the horses under his care was “Red Rum”. One of the great moments in sporting history was when Tommy rode “Red Rum” to victory in the 1977 Aintree Grand National.
Tragedy struck later that year, when an accident in the paddock at Hexam resulting in Tommy breaking his pelvis in several places. He was in traction for three months and underwent several operations.
Tommy decided to retire from riding at the age of 32 and went into training. He quickly made his name, winning the “Cartier Million” in the Phoenix park with “Colwyn Bay”. His outstanding achievement as a trainer was winning the English “One Thousand Guineas” at Newmarket with “Las Meninas”.
Barrett wrote of Tommy Stack in the Irish Post:
Stack was a farmer’s son from North Kerry, where a racehorse wasn’t to be seen for miles. He had to work hard for any success that came his way. He gained the recognition of owners and trainers alike by his brilliance in the saddle and most of all his absolute integrity. This is something that has always been recognised in racing. He reached the peak of his profession, one of the toughest and most dangerous in the land, to become champion jockey on two occasions”.
However, he will be always be best remembered for his association with Red Rum, who made Aintree history when winning the Grand National for the third time, in 1977 with Stack on board.
Tragedy struck again on St. Stephen’s day, 1998 when Tommy was struck down with Meningitis. He was brought to Mercy hospital in Cork, where he spent thirteen days unconscious, on a life-support machine. He spent two months in hospital and then returned home to begin the long, slow process of recovery. In his typical fighting spirit, he fought back and has made a great recovery, apart from his hearing. Please God, with time, that will also return.
It was a wonderful occasion at Listowel races, last year, when Tommy was honoured. He has also been a wonderful ambassador for our parish and the people of Moyvane and Knockanure are rightly proud of him and wish him the best.