I am one lucky guy. 99 per cent of the time this is the best job on earth. Sadly Cheltenham Thursday goes in the other one per cent.
It was all going so well- the races done and a post race interview with trainer Charles Byrnes after Solwit’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle triumph recorded and fed.
The it all went wrong. The sixth race, the Kim Muir Chase and a first fence fall for Galaxy Rock. Next time round they bypass the fence and you realise something is wrong.
Down to the weighing room steps and you realise something most definitely is wrong.
People smile at the Cheltenham Festival- not in that scenario they weren’t. Too many officials for my liking were speaking into walkie-talkies. It was obvious John Thomas Macnamara, the jockey on Galaxy Rock was seriously hurt.
My respect for jump jockeys is only matched by my admiration for them but they are a breed, and a united one. Old and young, Irish and English their concern obvious. Not even two of the rising stars, who had both entered the hallowed ground of the winners enclosure were smiling- it was all about one thing, the health of their stricken colleague.
You just want to walk away but you have a job to do- no speculation just find out the facts. This hardy breed are all human beings first and jockeys second and people in my profession should never forget that. They too have emotions- and it needed no words to realise it..
We all pray for John Thomas and his family and that the amazing team at Frenchay Hospital can care for him- and all his fellow jockeys are in our thoughts as well.
Despite the triumphs of Solwit and two outstanding young jockeys and human beings in Richie McLernon and Bryan Cooper, this is not a Cheltenham day I ever want to go through again.
Mike ‘keep your halo straight’ Vince