Prior to being paralyzed in a fall in 2001 his steeplechase days we pronounced by the success of his mount, the Hall of Fame (1973 inductee) chaser Jay Trump. In fact it was his godmother, Mrs. Mary C. Stephenson of Cincinnati, who purchased the horse.
Mr. Smith won the Maryland Hunt Cup in 1959 onboard Fluctuate, and two years later, riding Simple Samson. His next three victories — 1963, 1964 and 1966 — were onboard Jay Trump, owned by Mary Stephenson.
In 1964, he won My Lady's Manor, Grand National and the Maryland Hunt Cup with Jay Trump.
A year later, he became the first U.S. rider on an American horse, Jay Trump, to win the Grand National at Aintree, England, and also won the Grand Steeplechase de Paris at Auteuil, France, with the same horse.
Mr. Smith was awarded the S. Bryce Wing Award in 2008 from the Maryland Hunt Cup Association.
Today, aside from the fact that he does not like crowds of horses near him and in the Grand National refused to move up to the front before the start because there were 46 other horses bothering his desire for freedom of movement, Jay Trump is as amenable a fellow as one could hope to meet—well-mannered, obedient and eager to oblige.
Coming toward the last fence, Mr. Smith gambled and pushed Jay Trump to leave from a more shallow angle. The horse’s legs and belly scraped the brush but gained precious seconds turning for home. In the final 500 yards, Mr. Smith and Jay Trump edged McCarron and Freddie by less than a second.
“No runner had ever gone toward the big race with more total dedication from its rider,” author and champion jockey Dick Francis wrote in the foreword to “The Will to Win,” a 1966 book by Jane McClary chronicling Mr. Smith’s triumph. “Tommy Smith literally devoted his whole self, his will, his energy, and his body, to one end.”
Mr. Smith said that a dose of fear was crucial for a jump jockey facing the obstacles at the Grand National.
“The adrenaline gives you that extra, sharper reflexes and makes you see and feel and heightens awareness so that everything you are goes into the race itself,” Mr. Smith was quoted as saying in “The Will to Win.” “I never knew a rider that was any good who wasn’t a little bit afraid.”