Top Irish amateur jockey JT McNamara is said to be comfortable in an English hospital after surgery on a serious neck injury sustained at the Cheltenham festival.
The 37-year-old from Limerick was injured in a first fence fall from Galaxy Rock in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.
McNamara was airlifted to hospital after being treated by the on-course medics and was put in an induced coma before his transfer to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.
He underwent surgery on his fractured C3 and C4 vertebrae on Friday.
A statement on behalf of the McNamara Family was issued by Dr. Adrian McGoldrick, Turf Club senior medical officer, and Lisa Hancock, CEO of the Injured Jockeys Fund.
The statement read, “We can report that following lengthy surgery yesterday JT McNamara is in a stable condition. He remains in an induced coma at Frenchay hospital, Bristol.
“No further updates will be released until Tuesday, 19 March and the family politely request that the media do not contact Frenchay hospital direct.
“They would also like to thank everyone for their kind support and best wishes for JT.”
McNamara’s plight was a stark reminder of the reality of racing for the Irish who celebrated a record 14 winners at the festival on a week that saw Willie Mullins continue his winning form of late.
Highlight for many of the Irish punters was Barry Geraghty’s victory aboard Bobs Worth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as he outstayed Tony McCoy and Sir Des Champs up the hill.
Geraghty was thinking of his fellow jockey McNamara afterwards and said, “I’d love to be happier.
ll we can think about is John Thomas McNamara. We just hope and pray to God he’s okay.
“This is a brilliant win, he is a gorgeous horse and he has a great attitude. He never traveled, he struggled on that ground, but he kept fighting.
“I knew three out I had five or six lengths to find, but I thought I had a good chance. He’s as game as a lion and he loves the job.”
Sligo on Top
SLIGO Rovers remain top of the Airtricity League after a 3-0 win over Bray on Saturday night. Shamrock Rovers beat St. Pat’s 3-0 on Friday night and drew 0-0 with Bohs in the Dublin derby on Monday. Bohs had lost 2-1 in Cork on Friday night when Drogheda drew 2-2 with Limerick, Derry hammered UCD 6-0 and Dundalk won 3-1 at Shels . . .
IRELAND will play Wales in a pre-season friendly in Cardiff next August. The FAI is also considering a two game tour to America in June when they could play in New York and Boston with Spain and Mexico as likely opponents.
IRELAND are down to 40th in the latest FIFA world rankings ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifiers against Sweden and Cyprus . . .
DROGHEDA United winger Gary O’Neill faces a length absence with a knee injury picked up in the Setanta Cup game against Derry . . .
YOUNG Irish winger Anthony Forde has moved from Wolves to Scunthorpe United on loan until the end of the season . . .
GIOVANNI Trapattoni has dismissed speculation in France linking him with the vacant Montpellier job.
Brown Ready to Return
TONY Brown is on course to return to the Waterford squad according to manager Michael Ryan, as he approaches his 40th birthday in July. “Tony is working away on a personal fitness program. He is waiting to see how he gets on before making a decision,” Brown said . . .
ROSCOMMON side St. Brigid’s scored a last minute winner to beat Ballymun Kickhams by just a point in an enthralling AIB club football final at Croke Park on Sunday. Galway’s St. Thomas beat Offaly’s Kilcormac-Killoughey by two points in a tight club hurling decider . . .
KILDARE midfielder Dermot Earley has confirmed that he will finally retire at the end of the current season. “It probably will be my last year. I said I’d just give it one more shot and see how it goes,” he said . . .
TYRONE forward Kyle Coney is set to miss the remaining NFL games with a knee injury which kept him out of Saturday night’s win over Dublin at Croke Park . . .
VODAFONE have announced that they will end their deal as Dublin’s jersey sponsors after this year’s championship.