McNamaras make return as Robbie begins recuperation
Andrew McNamara senior and junior are pencilled in for Tramore tonight, which hopefully can be interpreted as a positive sign in relation to the progress being made by their son and brother Robbie.
Following a horror fall from Bursledon at Wexford on Friday, McNamara suffered up to 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.
On Saturday, he underwent surgery in the Mater Hospital to remove a haematoma that was pressing on his spinal cord.
His older brother and fellow jockey Andrew, who did not fulfil scheduled duties as part of RTE’s Grand National coverage on Saturday nor yesterday’s riding commitments at Tramore, reported yesterday of the procedure and his popular 26-year-old sibling: “Operation went well, no complications. (He is) in good form but full extent of injuries unknown.”
The younger McNamara, twice a winner at the Cheltenham Festival last year, only joined the professional ranks in November, a move that came as something of a surprise given that he is 6ft 3in tall.
He had been booked to take the Grand National ride on Lord Windermere – which was pulled up by Brian O’Connell – on Saturday, though he has otherwise struggled for opportunities in the paid ranks, his predicament not helped by a restrictive weight limit of around 11st 7lb.
Right now, the matter of whether or not he will be able to progress his career in the saddle is of no consequence.
McNamara’s family has already known tragedy due to the shocking paralysis suffered by his cousin JT McNamara following a fall at Cheltenham in 2013, so an upbeat prognosis that points to his making a full recovery is the single most pressing aspiration.
The Turf Club’s chief medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick added of McNamara yesterday: “He was very stable overnight and in very good spirits. The spinal injuries have been operated on and that’s stabilised. The next phase is recuperation and we’ll take it from there.”
His brother and father, who trains in Croom, are represented by Just Call Me this evening.
The five-year-old tackles 12 others in the two-mile handicap hurdle, having finished an encouraging fourth to Deano on its handicap bow at Thurles in November.
Just Call Me is a pound higher now, but he is an unexposed novice with the scope to provide the Co Limerick clan with some welcome respite.
In the bumper, Downpatrick runner-up Hot On Her Heels is fancied to justify the nap vote for Willie and Patrick Mullins, while Jim Dreaper’s Downpatrick winner Lord Fingal should plunder the hunters’ chase.
Steven Clements’ mount won with a bit of style in the north three weeks ago, and he appeals as a horse on an upward curve.
Earlier, Luke Dempsey and Gordon Elliott, whose team has been in such tremendous form, might get on the score sheet with Utmost Zeal.
A faller at the last fence in a point-to-point when eight lengths clear, this Big Bad Bob five-year-old won a Punchestown bumper on its track bow in October.
However, he has frustrated otherwise, falling twice more at the last flight – including here in January – before getting placed on its two latest starts.
This is Utmost Zeal’s seventh outing over hurdles, so he is hardly the most reliable.
Nonetheless, the maiden that he contests is a pretty moderate affair, and he just might take a bit of catching over this easy two miles.
In the two-mile-five-furlong handicap hurdle, Cork runner-up Cloudy Morning appeals as a likely winner.