The crowds had already began to spill out into the approaching gloom of the surrounding countryside by the time Thomas Mullins’s Alderwood made it a record 14th Irish-trained winner at this week’s Cheltenham Festival.
The history books will make for a pleasing read but winners and losers carried heavy hearts at Prestbury Park yesterday as thoughts turned continually towards JT McNamara, who underwent surgery in Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital.
The amateur jockey sustained a serious neck injury in a first-fence fall on board Galaxy Rock in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup on Thursday and was airlifted from the course.
McNamara was conscious following the fall according to officials at the track, and the Limerick man was placed in an induced coma before his transfer.
Dr Adrian McGoldrick, chief medical officer of the Irish Turf Club, issued an update on the rider yesterday: “We can confirm that amateur rider JT Mc-Namara suffered two fractured vertebrae in his neck.”
He said the Croom man’s condition remained serious but stable.
McNamara has enjoyed a long-standing association with owner JP McManus, having ridden a number of winners such as Spot The Difference.
An emotional McManus, speaking after watching his At Fishers Cross win the Albert Bartlett under Tony McCoy, said: “We’re all thinking of JT and what he’s going through. We feel guilty being here. We feel we should be doing something for him. All our prayers are with him and hopefully they will be answered.”
McCoy, who partnered Alderwood to victory in the race said: “It’s very hard to be happy on a day like today with what happened to John Thomas McNamara.”
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