Thompson, John Patrick (1880–1913), champion jockey, was born 13 December 1880 in Bunclody, Co. Wexford, eldest among two sons and a daughter born to Joseph Thompson, farmer, from Newtownbarry Mills, and Katherine Thompson (née Murphy), originally from Enniscorthy. He was initially apprenticed as a jockey with Michael Dennehy at French House on the Curragh before moving to the stables of James J. Parkinson (1870–1948), one of the greatest Irish trainers of the late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. Parkinson was convinced that the American style of riding – a crouched style lying low with the head almost on the horse's neck and riding with shortened leathers, popularised in Europe by the US jockey ‘Tod’ Sloan (1874–1933) – was the most effective way to ride and insisted that all his jockeys, including Thompson, adopt it. However sceptical he may have been, Thompson went on to become the leading Irish jockey of his generation, winning ten Irish Jockey's Championships from 1901 to 1912 (a record at that time), losing just twice – in 1908 to the great English rider Steve Donoghue, and in 1909 to National Hunt jockey George Brown – and sharing the title in 1911 with John Doyle. His fifty-three winners in 1907 – his seventh consecutive year as champion – constituted a record until surpassed by Billy Parkinson. Thompson's first winner was on Wink at a race in Tralee (1898), and despite winning rides in the Irish Cesarewitch (1898) and the Madrid Handicap (1899), both at the Curragh, he was still a relatively unknown apprentice when he rode the Parkinson-trained Berrill to victory in the 1900 Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket and indirectly ended the career of ‘Tod’ Sloan, the man whose riding style he had copied. Sloan had been riding the favourite, and associates of Sloan were accused of intimidating behaviour to Thompson prior to the race. Sloan, who was also accused of being abusive to Thompson, was disgraced, eventually losing his British, French, and American jockey's licences. Thompson won three Irish Oaks, piloting the Parkinson-trained Royal Mantle (1901), Blakestown (1905), and Shining Way (1912) to victory, but never won the Irish Derby, coming second three times with Royal Winkfield (1901), Steinhager (1906), and Drinmore (1911). In 1909 he rode four winners out of five mounts at the Derby meeting at Epsom, and later, at the Royal Epsom meeting, rode what was possibly the first Irish-trained winner at that event.
Thompson was regarded as better over sprints than distance and as having a strong finish, although not perhaps as the most stylish or artistic of riders. The Irish Field noted in an obituary that he was ‘not always at his best on two-year-olds that required delicate handling’ (Irish Field, 31 May 1913), probably an allusion to his reputation for being heavy with the whip, something for which he was unapologetic. Thompson was of the opinion that owners and punters were entitled to see that both he and the horse were trying to win the race. Despite a keen interest in hunting and in the developing sport of show jumping, he was considered by Parkinson as too valuable to risk in National Hunt racing, and confined his racing activity to the flat. Weighing in at around 8 st. 7 lb. (53.98 kg) when in the saddle, Thompson had an ascetic lifestyle, and this, together with his successful partnership with the prolific Parkinson, meant he made a considerable amount of money from racing, in contrast to some of his more extravagant and extrovert rivals. His last public ride was on Sleipner in the Baldoyle Derby on Whit Tuesday, 1913. With over 500 winners in a fourteen-season career, and the continued success of his partnership with Parkinson, it is not unreasonable to assume that he would have continued to dominate Irish racing for some considerable time had he not suffered fatal injuries after being thrown while schooling a horse over hurdles on 15 May 1913. It was a sad irony considering his ‘ban’ from National Hunt racing. Thompson died 29 May 1913, aged 32, and is buried in Templeshannon, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. He never married.