IT’S said that hard times will reveal true friends, and if last Sunday is anything to go by then injured jockey Robbie McNamara has at least 600 comrades-in-arms.
The Croom man was joined by family, friends and acquaintances from the horse racing community for a sold-out gala lunch hosted in the Limerickman’s honour.
Thanks to the generosity of those who travelled to Limerick Racecourse for the event, and those who donated, a staggering €200,000 was raised on the day.
A total of 75% of the money raised will go into the Robbie McNamara Fund while the remaining 25% will go to the Injured Jockeys Fund. “There are a lot of medical expenses like wheelchairs, getting the car adapted, and moving into a new house which don’t come cheap, so this will make things a lot easier. It will be one less thing to worry about,” said Robbie who attended Sunday’s event with his parents Andrew Snr and Kathleen, brother Andrew and wider family.
“A huge amount of organising went into it and there was huge support shown by everyone in racing, as well as friends and family. A huge crowd turned out – there was unbelievable support.”
Robbie’s life has always been associated with horses from champion ponies to champion racehorses and magnificent Cheltenham Festival victories.
Sadly, a brilliant career in the saddle was cut short by a fall at Wexford Racecourse last April which left him with no feeling in his legs. Thankfully, Robbie is remaining positive and is determined to live his life to the full.
“I’m looking after myself. I’m fit as a flea. I’m standing up and doing a bit of walking everyday with leg splints and working out, watching my diet and eating healthily. Once I keep busy and active I’m fine,” he explained.
The biggest names in the horse racing industry both in Ireland and the UK put their hands deep in their pockets by donating a range of coveted auction prizes. A total of 56 tables were sold out – with up to 12 people squeezing in on some tables.
“We made over €200,000 and it’s onwards and upwards because loads of people rang me this morning asking could they send a cheque and who should they make it out to,” said Frankie Ward, who organised the event.
“The food by the Woodlands was superb and beautifully presented. James Nicholson, a wine importer in the North, gave me all the wine, free of charge and Abbey Printing, Kilmallock, did all the printing, free of charge also.”
The biggest bid on the day was €10,000 for a round of golf with AP McCoy and John Francome at the K Club. The winning bidder was Chris Jones, who lives in Dublin and has racehorses.
All-day hospitality for four people at the VIP box on Gold Cup day at Cheltenham made €4,500, while a week at the family apartment of the Lillingston family in Costa del Sol for six people made €2,600. The stallion nominations also made huge money.
“We can all have bad days and good days but when something bad happens it isn’t the pills and everything else – it’s the people, support and the encouragement that drives you further,” said Frankie. “Those people in the horse world – what they have done makes this a wonderful world. You forget all the other awful things that happen,” she added.