Grand National-winning rider Mick Fitzgerald has spoken of his sadness and of the risks involved in racing after it was revealed by the family of rider JT McNamara that the serious neck injury he suffered in a fall at the Cheltenham Festival has led to paralysis.
Leading amateur McNamara, 37, was injured when Galaxy Rock fell at the first fence in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup and had to be airlifted to Bristol, where he remains, although plans are to be made for a transfer to Dublin in due course.
Fitzgerald told Sky Sports News: "It's a mixture of sadness, it's the end of a great career for a jockey who was an amateur and did it because he loved the game.
"When it happened at the time a sombre (mood) descended on Cheltenham, everyone had everything crossed and plenty of people were praying their worse fears wouldn't be realised.
"This is the end of a glittering career."
The condition of a leading amateur jockey who suffered a serious neck injury at Cheltenham races is beginning to stabilize following surgery.
JT McNamara was injured in a first fence fall from Galaxy Rock in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup on Thursday, He was and was airlifted to hospital after being treated by the on-course medics.
Jockey JT McNamara is in an induced coma, suffering "a serious neck injury", after his horse fell at the first hurdle in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup at Cheltenham this afternoon.
Dr Adrian McGoldrick, chief medical officer for the Irish Turf Club, said: "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 in the morning when hopefully he will have had his scan."
Leading amateur jockey JT McNamara is in a coma in hospital after being injured when his horse fell at the Cheltenham festival, his uncle said tonight.
The Irishman, 37, fell at the first fence while riding Galaxy Rock for trainer Jonjo O'Neill in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup this afternoon.
McNamara's uncle, the trainer Andrew McNamara, said: "I've been told that JT is in an induced coma at the moment."
The jockey was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol by air ambulance from the Gloucestershire course.
Medical staff were quickly on hand to treat McNamara after the fall and it was decided to transfer him for further treatment without delay.