Tylicki paralysis brings funding idea to fore
RTE's 'Nationwide' on Wednesday was at once heartbreaking and heartwarming yet, despite the subject matter being so gravely serious, the images that linger most involved a Jack Russell.
"He knows I can't kick him," Robbie McNamara noted in chilling self-deprecation, his pet dog dutifully at his feet as the former rider engaged in a walking rehabilitation exercise that looked a first cousin of torture.
And the shot of the little dog, perched nonplussed on one of Robbie's footrests as he sped through his yard in a wheelchair, was laden with symbolism.
Just as jockey-turned-trainer Robbie was left with no choice but to evolve, the same can be said of his Jack Russell. It is early days in Freddy Tylicki's prognosis but it seems that he has similar paralysis to that which Robbie endured in his fall at Wexford. Tylicki has no movement from the waist down; if he needs hope, Robbie is the man to call.
While discussing Paul Carberry's retirement, the subject matter got to the late JT McNamara, Robbie's first cousin. I asked Paul had he ever sustained spinal injuries.
"No, I was lucky," he replied. "Oh yeah, I did my spleen one time and nearly died alright," he added as a throwaway add-on of no significance.
These guys greet the everyday threat of disaster with the same fear as a serial jaywalker on a deserted street.
Ruby Walsh, Irish Injured Jockeys chairman, mooted last Sunday that some media rights money SIS gives to Irish tracks and Horse Racing Ireland could be funnelled towards the IIJ. He was unaware what was to come a day later.
A gruesome pile-up resulted in Tylicki and champion rider Jim Crowley rushed to hospital; it was portentous that Tylicki required air ambulance. The fate of the German-born rider, whose mother is Irish, was confirmed on Friday. Irish racing's media rights funding goes to 2023 and the deal agreed this year ensured a dramatic improvement in terms. It is understood that a top racetrack could be paid seven figures for an eight-race card.
For Walsh, it is a question of copper-fastening more funding, rather than the sporadic bouts of begging. "The media rights money is paramount in terms of keeping the tracks afloat," he said.
"However, even a rock-bottom percentage of that money, 1pc, going our way would make a huge difference.
"In our game, terrible injuries are fact. For us, you go back with your hand out and ask people to donate again and donate again. I think the finances are there to avoid that."
Were the tracks to donate that 1pc, it could bring in over €200,000 per year. One racecourse manager said: "Jockeys' welfare is everything to us. We would definitely be open to discussions on something like this."
HRI CEO Brian Kavanagh, whose role in realising an incredibly lucrative deal for racing was pivotal, is warm to the principle of Walsh's idea. He said yesterday: "There is a review of racing charities under way at the moment - their structure, purpose and funding.
"The main thing is to ensure they are adequately funded whatever the source and that all the main needs are covered. It (Ruby's idea) is something that could be discussed as part of that review."
Sidelined riders are funded partly by prize-money and otherwise by donations. Ruby can now go to Horse Racing Ireland and bring a novel idea to the next level.
Finally, Irish Independent readers on Saturday were in the money yesterday as headline tip, Raz De Maree, landed the Cork National at odds of 14/1. This remarkable win for trainer Gavin Cromwell came four years after the steed won the same race for the late Dessie Hughes.
RIDE OF THE WEEK
Seamus Heffernan was utterly brilliant on Highland Reel in the Breeders' Cup Turf, toying with his rivals fractions-wise from a high draw. It was a fitting endorsement on a huge stage of Heffernan's talents and it would have been unfortunate for Aidan O'Brien, given the season he has had, if he went through the meet without a winner. Found, which struggled in the race, is retired with her head held high.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"I would like to say thank you to Freddy Tylicki. He's not in a great state at the moment, but he's helped me out a huge amount."
- Rider George Wood after Prize Money won Doncaster's November Handicap.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Matt Chapman ITV/ATR @MCYeeehaaa
I am literally in tears. 42k raised for @freddytylicki in 12 hours. Stuff of dreams. Racing people you are so cool. #showfreddythemoney
- Matt Chapman nails it. He set up a fund to raise £150,000 for the rider. That was already surpassed yesterday.
GAMBLE OF THE WEEK
Sub Lieutenant was the subject of near-incessant support ahead of Saturday's Grade Two at Down Royal. While 5/1 didn't last long the evening before, punters kept at it and had few worries as he won easily at 6/4. It was quite the day for Gigginstown, which also won the feature with Valseur Lido.