Sport Horse Racing

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Paralysed jockey JT McNamara: Not being able to play with the kids is the hardest thing

JT McNamara. David Davies/PA Wire
JT McNamara. David Davies/PA Wire

Paralysed jockey JT McNamara has spoken about the difficulties he now faces as the two-year anniversary of his horrific fall at Cheltenham approaches.

The Limerick jockey was immediately rushed to hospital after a crushing fall at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, where he later had to be weaned off a ventilator so he could undergo rehabilitation.

McNamara sustained fractures of C3 and C4 vertebrae when his mount Galaxy Rock fell at the first in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase.

After 15 months in hospital, the 39-year-old returned home to Croom last June.

The father-of-three, Dylan (8), Harry (6) and Olivia (3), requires 24-hour care and the use of a hi-tech wheelchair, which costs up to €400,000-a-year.

"Not being able to play with the kids is the hardest thing and it always will be," he told the Irish Daily Star.

His wife Caroline said: "All along their attitude has always been 'whatever has happened, we just want daddy home'."

The racing community, and in particular millionaire owner JP McManus, have helped with the medical costs.

"JP is unbelievable and if for some reason he ever had to pull out of Ireland it would be like a tsunami," McNamara said of McManus.

"I have the highest respect for him. The things he does for teh racing industry - and half of Ireland- are incredible."

McNamara received a number of negative prognoses but his determination has seen him embark on a training career in Croom.

"Of course there have been low days and the worst were when I was in hospital in Dublin because they gave me hope," he added.

"That just made me more determined and I said to myself 'this is not going to get me beat'."

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