Limerick jockey Brian Toomey is to make a remarkable return to riding after recovering from what was considered a life-threatening accident in a race at Perth nearly two years ago.
Following a fall in a hurdle race in July 2013, during which the jockey suffered serious head injuries, Toomey was put into an induced coma for a fortnight in the high dependency unit of Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.
He then underwent surgery to reduce swelling on his brain, including the removal of a section of his skull, and was in hospital for 157 nights. The BHA have required the now-26-year-old to pass a number of tests in order to renew his licence, including his ability to control a horse safely, and he has been assessed regarding his risk of further injury.
As Toomey, from Croom in Co Limerick, had a such a major fall, reports from a number of consultants were also required before an MOT from the BHA's chief medical adviser Dr Jerry Hill. He has been demonstrating his fitness at the British Racing School and Northern Racing College.
"It's been a long road back, but the one thing that has driven me throughout my recovery, and the main thing that has kept me going, was a desire to be a jockey again, and I am delighted that I've been cleared to ride by Dr Hill," he said. "Following the accident, the paramedics said that I was dead for six seconds, but they managed to resuscitate me. Then when I made it to the hospital they thought that I only had a three per cent chance of survival. Now here I am, two years on, ready to race-ride again.
"I know there will be people who will say I'm mad to want to come back, but it's been my dream since I was a boy to be a jockey and it's a job and life I love. I was absolutely determined that if I couldn't make it back, it wouldn't be through a lack of effort on my part."
Toomey wanted to pay particular thanks to the on-site medical team at Perth for their initial help, and the Injured Jockeys Fund and Professional Jockeys Association, as he has been using the Oaksey House facility in Lambourn for his recuperation.
"Just in surviving and overcoming all that I have been through I feel I have won the biggest and most important race of my life, and anything else is a bonus," he said. "I'm going to take my time and work on my fitness before taking my first ride. That is the next target to aim for and I'll give it my all to get there."