Inspirational Robbie McNamara looking on the bright side
Robbie McNamara has continued to exhibit a defiantly upbeat attitude despite his lamentable predicament by expressing optimism that he will yet regain power in the lower half of his body.
On Tuesday night, the 6ft 3in 26-year-old posted a photograph of himself on Twitter, enjoying a bit of sunshine as he sat in a wheelchair outside the Mater Hospital in Dublin earlier in the day. "Delighted to get out of the bed for the first time today," went the accompanying message. "What a beautiful day for it to land on #littlevictories."
In a horrendous fall over hurdles at Wexford the evening before he was due to ride Lord Windermere in the Grand National, McNamara suffered eight fractured ribs, chest injuries, a collapsed lung and bleeding into his chest, bleeding into his abdominal cavity and fractured multiple vertebrae with spinal trauma.
His cousin JT has been paralysed from the neck down following a fall at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, and he has had no feeling in his legs since the incident on April 10.
Returning to his regular slot on the Final Furlong podcast, though, McNamara's courageous refusal to accept his fate was little short of inspirational.
"I'm feeling great and I'm still optimistic," he said with characteristic good humour on the podcast. "I've no feeling in my legs at the minute, but it's early days.
"My back is badly battered and bruised and there's a lot of swelling. I'd be hoping when all that swelling and bruising goes down, some of the nerve damage might repair and some feeling might come back.
"I'm very active every day. I'm doing physio already and working on balance and reflexes. I can't do a whole pile as I broke eight ribs and cracked six vertebrae as well, so I can't do anything very strenuous. There's plenty to keep you occupied, I'm enjoying my days and I'm in great spirits. I've no negative thoughts whatsoever."
Of the photograph, he added: "It was my first time out of the bed. It was a surprise I was allowed to go outside; it went grand and it was a beautiful day for it. My mother and father were there and it put a smile on their faces, which is lovely to see as it hasn't been easy for them either."
Following the serious injuries suffered by JT and his fellow amateur rider Jonjo Bright two years ago, a charity race day at the Croom family's local Limerick track generated a enormous response within the industry. In excess of €800,000 was raised for the Jockeys' Emergency Fund, which has since been incorporated under the Irish Injured Jockeys Banner.
By coincidence, another charity event had been scheduled for this Saturday at the Munster venue in conjunction with the unveiling of a statue to commemorate legendary champion jockeys Tim and Martin Molony, and racing's close-knit family will again rally round to support the event.
McNamara's plight is a cruel but timely reminder of the perils that jump jockeys in particular face as matter of routine on a daily basis, so it is imperative that the occasion generates the response it deserves.
Meanwhile, next week's Punchestown Festival continues to take shape, with Gigginstown Stud's Eddie O'Leary hinting that the firm's Aintree hero Don Cossack and its Gold Cup third Road To Riches could clash in the Bibby Financial Services Gold Cup.
"He had a hard race at Cheltenham but he's fine again now and is ready to go," O'Leary said of Noel Meade's Road To Riches, before adding of Gordon Elliott's Liverpool winner: "There's every chance that Don Cossack could go as well. He has come out of Aintree very well. It's the case with both him and Road To Riches that if they tell us they want to run, then they will."
The Gold Cup runner-up Djakadam is the 5/2 favourite for Wednesday's €200,000 Grade One, though Willie Mullins has yet to commit the six-year-old following his game effort in testing ground at Cheltenham.