I was paralysed, it was frightening - Davy Condon suffers another spinal injury
Davy Condon won't know when or even if he will ride again until after he has undergone surgery following a second bout of spinal concussion that left him prostrate on the turf during Saturday's Grand National.
"People seem to think that I was unconscious but it was the very same as what happened at Cork in August; I was lying on the ground and I couldn't move," the dual Cheltenham Festival-winning rider said of the incident.
Condon (30) lay unnervingly motionless at the Liverpool course when his mount Portrait King fell just behind the leaders at the third-last fence in the £1m showpiece.
From the moment his body made impact with the ground, he went limp, the television pictures showing him lying face down with his arms strewn lifeless by his side.
Condon had only returned in December from over three months off after a similarly portentous fall from Flaxen Flare at Cork. He lost all feeling in his body for 10 minutes on that occasion and suffered fractures to three vertebrae, but recovered to guide Bayan to a Ladbroke Hurdle win at Ascot.
Condon also crushed a vertebra in 2007 and suffered another back injury in 2010. He is resigned now to taking as long as necessary to get himself right, having been released from Liverpool's Fazakerley Hospital on Monday night.
"I'm feeling sore but I am getting a bit better every day," the still groggy-sounding Cork-born rider said yesterday from his home in Meath, adding that the Turf Club's chief medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick is in the process of setting him up with a Dublin neurologist.
"The spinal concussion is the reason why I am after getting paralysed twice and have walked away from it both times. There was a blockage in my spinal cord there from a bulging disk. There is arthritis there and there is another bone growth in the spinal passageway so that needs to be cleared.
"It is probably going back to 2010; that was when the bulging disk first came up and I rode on with it. Then I got the fall in August and that was my first spinal concussion. That made it worse, I suppose, and the fall that I got in Aintree is after making it worse again. My neck is in a mess.
"When I saw the neurologist the last time, he said, 'it's there, but you can ride on with it, but I'm not going to tell you that you won't get another spinal concussion, because you might with the job that you're doing'.
"So I had the option of surgery but I didn't take it, because I wanted to get back quickly to ride Bayan at Ascot. I thought it would be fine - it's not going to do me any harm. Obviously now I am going to have to get it sorted so I will be out for a long time.
"I suppose I didn't take it seriously enough the first time, but when it has happened again it is frightening. I lost power in my body again for 10 minutes. I wasn't knocked out at all, like. I was fully conscious - I just couldn't move on the ground. It was frightening.
"Same story, paralysed for 10 minutes. While I was on the ground I was able to tell the medics everything that happened to me last year and that I thought it was the same again.
"I had to wait for my body to come back. Lucky enough I got feeling in my hands again in the ambulance and I got the shocks again. That was worse this time. It was darts of pain like electrocution. I had that for a few days, which is why I was in hospital, because of the pain. I was on morphine and still have tablets. It is like spasms and it will settle down again."
The extent of Robbie McNamara's injuries are still unclear following his horrendous hurdle fall at Wexford the evening before the Grand National.
He 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.
McNamara (26), whose cousin JT s paralysed from the neck down since a fall at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, tweeted a selfie-style photo giving the thumbs up from his Mater bed on Sunday night. However, his predicament remains grim.
When Condon was asked if he feared that his riding career might be in jeopardy, he replied frankly, acknowledging that his dilemma could be worse.
"I won't know until the surgery is done," he responded. "The doctor at Aintree said I shouldn't ride again until I have the surgery and they have established how much damage is inside the neck. I certainly won't be rushing back in three months' time to ride at Galway or anything like that.
"It's not something that frustrates me. I was able to walk out of hospital. When you see the situation Robbie Mac is in now, I actually don't care. I'm lucky. I can be fixed. I can walk. I don't feel upset for myself - I am quite happy with my lot."
Condon is in a neck brace and is being cared for by his partner Louise Maguire. He hopes to undergo surgery in the next couple of weeks.
Meanwhile, Willie Mullins has suggested that star novice chasers Vautour and Don Poli might clash over three miles at Punchestown, stating that they "definitely could" both run in the Growise Champion Chase.