JT McNamara: Injured jockey paralysed after Cheltenham fall

Jockey JT McNamara is remaining positive despite being paralysed by injuries sustained in a fall at the Cheltenham Festival.

The 37-year-old had surgery after fracturing two vertebrae and remains at Bristol's Frenchay Hospital.

"Whilst he suffered a neck injury resulting in paralysis, JT has made progress and is in a positive frame of mind," read a family statement.

"He is greatly appreciative of the many messages, cards and letters received."

Jockey Colman Sweeney

"You would travel every single road in England and Ireland to find a bad word said against him (McNamara) and I don't think you'd do it."

A statement earlier in the week, also released by the Injured Jockeys' Fund - a charity that helps riders and their families - on behalf of McNamara's family, said he was fully alert but requiring full-time ventilation.

It was also announced that the Irish jockey would be transferred at an appropriate stage from Frenchay to the national spinal unit at the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

McNamara, from Ireland, was placed in an induced coma after Galaxy Rock fell at the first fence in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup on 14 March. His wife Caroline flew to Bristol the following day to be at his bedside in intensive care.

He had an operation on his fractured spine, having injured the C3 and C4 vertebrae in his neck, but fears that he had sustained a brain injury were allayed in a statement a week later.

Grand National-winning rider Mick Fitzgerald, whose career was ended when he suffered neck injuries in a fall from L'Ami in the 2008 National at Aintree, told Sky Sports News: "This is the end of a glittering career.

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It's a high-risk sport. As a jump jockey you go out to ride every day knowing it could be your last.

Mick Fitzgerald Grand National-winning jockey

"He's alive and well and in a positive frame of mind. It's important that racing does what it can to help him enjoy the rest of life. I cannot tell you how nice a guy he is.

"It's a high-risk sport and this is one of the things that can happen. As a jump jockey you go out to ride every day knowing it could be your last. You never think it could be you; it always happens to someone else."

Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, tweeted:  "Awful news with confirmation of the extent of JT's injuries.

"[These are] the risks faced/sacrifices made by our brave boys & girls face to entertain us."

The Jockey Club tweeted:  "We echo the sentiments expressed across our sport and beyond, and send our very best wishes to JT McNamara & those dear to him."

McNamara, from Limerick, is a leading amateur rider who has ridden four winners at the Cheltenham Festival, including guiding Teaforthree to victory in the National Hunt Chase last year.

He won the same race in 2002 on Rith Dubh, was successful in the Cross-Country Chase with Spot Thedifference three years later and won the 2007 Fox Hunter Chase on Drombeag.