22nd Mar 2013
While Cheltenham was a resounding success from this perspective, I found it hard to write a blog in the wake of the injury sustained by John Thomas McNamara. We know that our sportsmen were the first to be followed around by an ambulance, we know that it is one of the most dangerous jobs on earth. The stats show that a jump jockey is likely to hit the deck many times a year, we just hope that they rise quickly to their feet.
Before the advent of the Dubai World Cup, the first couple of years of internationalisation of Dubai racing involved an International Jockeys Challenge. At the same time the Emirates Golf Club was completed and hosted a premier PGA golf tournament. I remember my father’s amazement that one golfer received more appearance money for two rounds of golf than it cost to assemble the twelve best Flat jockeys in the world. Jump jockeys on average earn even less. We want them to be fearless, cunning, witty and colourful while propelling themselves at a series of obstacles, any one of which can do them harm.
The esteem in which JT is held reflects his endurance and record-breaking achievement as well as his humility and strength of character. While all similar situations shock deeply, it was obvious that this unconquerable hero was never meant to be numbered among the fallen. We can only hope that the strengths that make him what he is can muster the one more push he needs now.
Any thoughts of Brocklesbys or Curragh races seem hollow in this context. The Osbornes bred two winners on Monday – one, Emma, in a local music competition from which her ashamed father absented himself to witness Makethedifference win his bumper at Navan. I am sure Emma will forgive me, eventually.