LIMERICK jockey JT McNamara who suffered a serious neck injury during the Cheltenham Festival is said to be in positive spirits as he continues to undergo treatment.
The 37-year-old who remains in a stable condition at the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol is to be transferred to the National Spinal Unit at The Mater Hospital, Dublin – possibly as early as next week, depending on his condition.
“He is upbeat. He is sharper than ever. I know him and he is so doggedly determined,” said Frankie Ward, regional secretary of point-to-points. “He has the most wonderful wife who is of the same ilk as he is,” she continued.
The Croom man was airlifted from the racecourse at Prestbury Park after his mount Galaxy Rock fell at the first in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase on March 14. Having fractured his C3 and C4 vertebrae in the fall, JT was put in an induced coma by medical attendants. He regained consciousness early last week.
A statement issued on behalf of the McNamara family this week stated that the leading amateur rider is now “fully alert” but requires full-time ventilation. “In due course JT will be transferred to the National Spinal Unit at the Mater Hospital, Dublin where he will be closer to his family. His wife Caroline and family very much appreciate everyone’s continued good wishes and prayers on JT’s behalf,” the statement read.
The popular sportsman received a welcome boost in recent days when his three young children Dylan, Harry and Olivia travelled to Bristol to see their dad.
According to Frankie Ward, the solidarity of the National Hunt world over the last fortnight has been “just unbelievable”.
“What an amazing bunch of people they are - old and young. My phone is hopping all the time. Before they do or say anything they want to know how JT is,” she said.
“The English Injured Jockeys Fund have also been unbelievable. Hopefully, our fund, one day, will match theirs. There is one of the team there (in Frenchay Hospital) every day. It’s very reassuring to know all that when you are ill. JT is surrounded by people who are full of support for him,” she added.
JT McNamara is widely regarded as one of the most effective amateur jockeys the sport has known and was a winner at last year’s Cheltenham Festival on Teaforthree, now a leading Grand National contender. According to local jockeys, JT is also one of the most popular men in the weighing room. His injury threw the Cheltenham Festival into deep shadow.