Saturday 24 March 2018

Brian Toomey determined to stay in racing after riding farewell

Brian Toomey
Brian Toomey

Miracle jockey Brian Toomey is set to move to his native Ireland with the ultimate aim of becoming a trainer after bowing out from the saddle at Stratford.

Toomey, who sustained life-threatening injuries from a horror fall at Perth in July 2013, did not enjoy a fairytale ending after the Phil Kirby-trained City Dreams was involved in a three-way skirmish with Fit The Brief and Miliair in a mares' novice hurdle, won by Katie's Hen.

City Dreams sadly suffered a fracture above a hock and had to be put down, but Toomey was able to walk away unscathed.

Twenty-seven-year-old Toomey was told by medics he had died for six seconds following the frightful fall from Solway Dandy at Perth three years ago, and was given only a three per cent chance of survival.

The rider was placed in an induced coma for two weeks, and had surgery to reduce swelling on his brain, including the removal of part of his skull.

He remained in hospital for 157 nights, but recovered to fulfil every criteria needed from the British Horseracing Authority to make an astonishing comeback at Southwell last July.

But Toomey since struggled to gain regular rides and last week announced his intention to hang up his saddle.

He told At The Races: "I'm lucky to be here, people thought I could never get back. I had to prove it to myself, and having a goal helped my recovery. From the day I got back walking and talking I was determined to come back.

"I'd like thank the support I've had, but I can understand why I didn't get the rides - there's so much worry.

"I'm going to move to Ireland and start again. I want to stay in racing, I'm addicted to it. In time I want to train, but my main aim at the moment is get associated with a big yard and learn as much as I can. At 27 I still have time on my side, but I hope I start to have better luck."

Former jumps jockey Bob Champion said Toomey's recovery was an "amazing story", yet one that was tinged by the sadness of early retirement.

In July 1979, Champion was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 31 and nearly died during treatment. He survived the brutal programme of chemotherapy, with his rehabilitation gloriously completed when he partnered Aldaniti to victory in the 1981 Grand National at Aintree.

Champion told Press Association Sport: "I admire him greatly for what he has done. He's tried his best, but unfortunately it didn't work out, which is a bit sad for him.

"But he's alive and he's got out of the game in one piece - and that's the main thing. It's been an amazing story, but hopefully he can go on and do something else in racing. I'm sorry it didn't happen for him back riding, but it's only a job, at the end of the day, and you can only ride for so many years.

"When all said and done, it doesn't really matter about riding winners and all those things. The fact he is still with us is the real heart-warming thing. I wish him a lot of luck for many years to come."

Press Association

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