McNamara making progress
With a notable lull after the Cheltenham Festival, which has been exacerbated by cancellations and postponements, there was one piece of warming news concerning John Thomas McNamara.
It concerned the improved condition of the Irish amateur who fractured two neck vertebrae in a fall at Cheltenham 10 days ago.
The 37-year-old is now conscious and alert, out of the coma induced by doctors in the early stages of his recovery and, although still needing help with his breathing, is set to be transferred from Bristol to a Dublin hospital to be closer to his family.
A statement issued on behalf of the McNamara family by Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Irish Turf Club senior medical officer, and Lisa Hancock, CEO of the Injured Jockeys Fund, said: "JT McNamara remains in a stable condition at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol. He is now fully alert but requires full-time ventilation at present. In due course he will be transferred to the National Spinal Unit at the Mater Hospital, Dublin. His wife Caroline and family very much appreciate everyone's continued good wishes and prayers on JT's behalf."
McNamara's plight puts much else in perspective, including the perils of ante-pose betting, which were highlighted for the second day in succession.
After Aidan O'Brien cast doubts on the participation of well-fancied Kingsbarns in the 2,000 Guineas, his training colleague William Haggas ruled ante-post favourite Nine Realms out of Saturday's rearranged Lincoln Handicap.
"He's not going to run," said Haggas of the four-year-old, which had been as short as 6/1. "I can't see the ground as being anything other than horrible."
The conditions for the mile contest – for which Captain Bertie and Lahaag are now vying for favouritism at 7/1 – are indeed likely to be demanding. At Doncaster yesterday there was still some of the frozen snow that led to the Lincoln's abandonment three days ago left on the track, with heavy ground predicted once it thaws.
Looking ahead to Aintree, one of the meeting's regulars, Oscar Whisky, is to return to his comfort zone of two and a half miles after flopping over three at Cheltenham. The Nicky Henderson-trained eight-year-old will bid for a hat-trick in the Aintree Hurdle, with a novice chasing campaign planned for next season. (© Independent News Service)