Racing world digs deep for Limerick’s Robbie Mac

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

Robbie McNamara taking part in the National Rehabilitation Hospital's spinal sports championships in September. Picture: Lorraine O'Sullivan
THE BIGGEST names in the horse racing industry both in Ireland and the UK have gone the extra mile for injured jockey Robbie McNamara by donating a range of coveted auction prizes for this Sunday’s sold-out gala lunch hosted in the Limerickman’s honour.

THE BIGGEST names in the horse racing industry both in Ireland and the UK have gone the extra mile for injured jockey Robbie McNamara by donating a range of coveted auction prizes for this Sunday’s sold-out gala lunch hosted in the Limerickman’s honour.

JP McManus, Jim Bolger, AP McCoy, John Francome, Michael Halford, Aidan O’Brien Jessie Harrington, Jonjo O’Neill, Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls and the Lillingston family are just some of the well-known figures who have dug deep to support the Croom jockey, who was seriously injured in a fall in Wexford.

The gala lunch and auction which will take place at Limerick Racecourse in aid of Robbie and the Injured Jockeys is a sold-out event with 53 tables being snapped up.

Robbie’s life was always 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.

“It’s so sad that one family would be hit twice but, the good news is, he is doing well,” said Frankie Ward, event organiser. Robbie’s cousin JT McNamara was also left seriously injured following a fall during the Cheltenham Festival of 2013.

Nick Nugent from Goffs, who is one of the leading auctioneers in the country, will oversee proceedings for the auction. A raffle will also take place on the day.

“Nick knows everybody,” Frankie pointed out. “He is just fabulous so he will be getting people to go another mile when they might have only been going half a mile. He will be telling them to ‘kick on’ – that ‘such and such would look good in their house’.”

The fundraiser – the benefits of which will go towards Robbie’s rehabilitation – is being spearheaded by trainer Tom Hogan. “We have had unbelievable support – there are too many people to mention.”

Among the highly coveted auction prizes up for grabs are a rugby jersey signed by the Irish players; the Ryder Cup Team Europe honour board which is one of only 24 produced exclusively for the victorious European Ryder Cup team which is signed by the entire team; entrance and lunch for four at Ascot Royal Enclosure Lodge with the chief executive of Ascot Racecourse Guy Henderson and his wife; a signed Wayne Rooney jersey; a set of the famous JP McManus racing silks signed by their triumphant jockeys; Cheltenham tickets and lunch for four people; a morning with Jim Bolger for six to eight people along with a tour of his yard and gallops; a round of golf with AP McCoy and John Francome at the K Club; all-day hospitality for four people at the VIP box on Gold Cup day at Cheltenham; a morning with champion trainer Aidan O’Brien at Coolmore; a visit for four to Jonjo O’Neill’s Jackdaws Castle outside Cheltenham; corporate racing for 10 people on Galway Plate day; a week at the family apartment of the Lillingston family in Costa del Sol for six people; and two stand tickets for next year’s All-Ireland hurling final in Croke Park.

The response to the gala lunch and auction is testament to the popularity of Robbie and the wider McNamara family. Robbie’s father Andrew trained Boreen Prince to win the Arkle Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 1985 while his brother Andrew also enjoyed success as a jockey in Cheltenham.

Anyone who wants to make a donation to Sunday’s gala event can contact Frankie Ward on 087 6722745 or 061 382114.