RYANAIR chief Michael O'Leary has donated €200,000 to a fund to support paralysed Limerick jockey JT McNamara, as riders led a round of applause for their injured colleague at Fairyhouse.
Veteran jockeys, including Ruby Walsh and Davy Russell, were joined by their weighroom colleagues as they marked the absence of their colleague who is still in the care of Frenchay Hospital in Bristol after a fall at the Cheltenham Festival.
Mr O'Leary's Gigginstown House Stud had offered to buy the winner of the Racing Post Champion Point-to-Point flat race for €200,000 in a 'Bumper Deal or No Deal' offer to promote point-to-point races.
But instead the money was donated to the JT McNamara fund and the Ryanair chief's brother Eddie O'Leary, racing manager of Gigginstown House Stud, presented the €200,000 cheque. Michael O'Leary phoned his brother to tell him to make the donation.
"We won the race, thankfully, but instead of buying the horse we can do some good with the money," Eddie said.
Fairyhouse racecourse organisers said the money would go to the Injured Jockeys Fund which provides medical aid and support to those injured on the track.
Richard Pugh, a point-to-point commentator and friend of Mr McNamara, told racegoers they were also asking people to think of 18-year-old jockey Jonjo Bright, who remains in hospital with serious neck injuries after a fall in a point-to-point in Tyrella, Co Down, a month ago.
Mr McNamara (37), a father of three, remains paralysed in hospital after suffering two broken vertebrae in the neck in a fall at Cheltenham Festival last month.
Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Irish Turf Club senior medical officer, said Mr McNamara remained in a "positive frame of mind" and greatly appreciated the messages, cards and well wishes he received.