TWO years after she watched her husband suffer a life-changing fall at the racing festival in Cheltenham, Caroline McNamara will return to the track this March, she confirmed in an interview with the Limerick Leader this week.
But husband John Thomas, who has shown remarkable bravery and courage since the fall which has confined him to a wheelchair, will remain at home with the horses at the stables in Croom.
Caroline was speaking in the wake of the weekend interview by Alastair Down of the Racing Post which gave a fascinating insight into how the Limerick jockey has coped since the fall in the Kim Muir Chase in March 14, 2013.
But Caroline, while delighted with the public support and continued goodwill messages, is a little upset that some papers, which took part from the interview, put a spin on the story and got it wrong.
“It was said that JP McManus is paying all his bills but this is completely false, that is not the case,” she explained, while stressing the great support received from JP McManus.
The Injured Jockeys Fund are helping the McNamaras cope with ongoing costs. They have two carers coming to the house 24 hours a day, and while JT can spend up to four hours at a time off his ventilator, it is often much less than that. Caroline says care costs will be between €300,000 and €400,000 a year. She praised the Injured Jockeys Fund who are not only supporting JT, but also Shane Bronderick, Jonjo Bright, and others.
“I will be going to Cheltenham for the Injured Jockeys race, to support it, but John won’t be going.”
She said that they were reluctant to talk to the press as people had “made mistakes” and got things wrong.
“Yes, it is great that people are supporting fundraising events, it is appreciated. We need continued funding as the costs are huge,” she said.
JP McManus got special mention from JT in the interview as a close friend and employer of injured jockey. “JP is unbelievable and if for some reason he ever had to pull out of Ireland it would be like a tsunami. I have the highest respect for him. The things he does for the racing industry – and half of Ireland – are incredible.”
Caroline told the Leader that husband John was “content with getting on with life, down the road there will be plenty of goals,” when asked if it was likely if he would return to Cheltenham.
In October last unknown to most of the public, John Thomas and Caroline attended a race meeting in Limerick, when Bryan Murphy of the Dunraven Arms organised a box.
“Throughout the afternoon about 50 people came up to see me, jockeys, valets, trainers and all sorts of friends I’d not seen for a long time because of what happened. It was a very good day,” said JT.
The Racing Post interview offered an insight into how the McNamaras are coping and how JT loves being with horses, his three children, Dylan (8), Harry (6) and Olivia (3) and Caroline.
“I see John as the same man I fell in love with and married. Exactly the same person he was before the injury, same personality, and I treat him the same way I did before his accident,” Caroline said.
“Our lives have changed enormously but I can look beyond disabilities. I have great respect for John and how he has dealt with all the issues and setback he has encountered.
“He still has that great strength and total determination that all jump jockeys require.”
She also paid tribute to her mother Phil, a nurse, who has become the children’s “second mother”.