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Sombre mood after McNamara suffers 'serious neck injury'

Within minutes yesterday afternoon, the mood at Cheltenham Racecourse changed dramatically and everything we enjoy and want to get out of this week – or any other – was put into perspective.

Early into the Kim Muir, Galaxy Rock, trained by Jonjo O'Neill and ridden by John Thomas McNamara gave the Limerick rider a crashing fall.

The race had an exciting climax, but when the screens were still up and the fence that Galaxy Rock took the fall at was bypassed even though the horse galloped away, there was just a feeling that something wasn't right.

Soon after, an ambulance crawled away from the scene, and news broke that JT was going by air ambulance to a hospital in Bristol and Cheltenham became an eerie place.

The Cross Country race was delayed but that was of no significance to anyone as one of the most well-liked and popular lads in the sport, not just the weighroom, was at the top of all our thoughts.

The Herald's Katie Walsh was second in the Cross Country race and everyone was delighted for Barry Cash who won the race on Big Shu, however Walsh summed up the mood: "That was great and all, but all I was thinking of and worried about was John Thomas – it's all anyone was thinking of. What do you say."


The married father of three only recently returned from injury to ride in a point to point at Lemonfield for Enda Bolger and JP McManus in time to return to this very meeting where he has already ridden multiple Festival winners.

Chief Medical Officer with the Irish Turf Club Dr Adrian McGoldrick said of the 37-year-old last night: "JT has suffered a serious neck injury.

"He is being looked after at the regional spinal unit but as yet he is still waiting for a scan.

"So what we know so far is that he has a neck injury, but we will know far more when he has had his scan."

It was undoubtedly the most sombre feeling I have ever experienced on a racecourse and let's all hope the news improves with the passage of time today.