Racing

"You become a National Hunt Jockey knowing there are certain risks" - Andy McNamara

Simon Maguire
Simon Maguire

09:16 11 Jan 2019


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Andrew McNamara joined this week's episode of Friday Night Racing to reflect on some of the high points of his career on the saddle and the challenges he now faces as a trainer.

In a remarkable career, he won 15 Grades 1 while a come-from-behind victory in the 2007 Irish Gold Cup aboard 'Beef or Salmon' remains one for the highlight reel.

However, his brother Robbie suffered a horrific fall in 2015 which left him paralysed from the waist down, telling Ger: "On the day, the doctors came to me after the race and said he's after getting in a serious fall and they told me you don't have to continue riding if you don't want to and, which is a bit foolish in hindsight, but I actually said 'I'd prefer to keep riding because if I stop, everyone else at home will be getting very worried' so I didn't realise how serious it was. There wasn't anything I could do anyway because he was gone off to hospital so I continued riding for the day and got a winner or two.

"So, then I went to the hospital in Wexford and it was only then I realised how serious the situation was. It definitely does have a big affect on everybody and, not consciously, but probably to some respect, it played some bit of a role in my decision to give up riding.

"As you know, John Thomas, my cousin, had an even worse injury and I was coming to the end anyway and it maybe hastened my decision a little," he added.

Asked if the thought of serious injury affected his approach to racing, he said: "Bottle is different for everybody - you either have it or you don't or somewhere along the way, something happens and you lose it. Or maybe in old age you lose it - old age as in your 30s - and luckily for me, I never did.

"I can't say there weren't specific horses I went out on where you're going 'This is a lovely horse, I love this fella' but the next fella you might be thinking: 'This is absolutely horrible and I want to get off this straight away' but that would have been a very rare case. So, I never did lose my bottle after the two lads got injured - I was still happy to go out and ride in the race.

"The doctors had said to us that we'll get upset straight away but that Robbie will deal with it at different times and in different ways and it was actually amazing how accurate they were. At the time - we got extremely upset and he was quite calm about it and as we were coming around - he got very upset. A lot of people say it's like grief for the person who gets injured but he definitely went through things differently to how we did."

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