Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Grand National winner Ryan Mania waiting for scans after suffering head and neck injuries in race fall

Ryan Mania celebrates on Auroras Encore after winning the John Smith's Grand National Chase
Ryan Mania celebrates on Auroras Encore after winning the John Smith's Grand National Chase
Ryan Mania celebrates on Auroras Encore after winning the John Smith's Grand National Chase
Ryan Mania celebrates on Auroras Encore after winning the John Smith's Grand National Chase
Ryan Mania crosses the finish line on Auroras Encore - winning the John Smith's Grand National Chase
Ryan Mania crosses the finish line on Auroras Encore - winning the John Smith's Grand National Chase

Grand National winning jockey Ryan Mania's joy turned to pain today when he ended up in hospital less than 24 hours after his victory at Aintree.

Mania (23) was airlifted from Hexham racecourse after he was injured when his horse Stagecoach Jasper fell in the St John Lee Handicap Hurdle this afternoon.

According to reports tonight, he is waiting for scans to show how serious the injuries are to his head and neck.

Only hours before the fall he had been posing for photographs with the 66-1 National winner Auroras Encore at his yard in West Yorkshire.

Scotsman Mania left trainer Sue Smith's stables before the horse's traditional trip to the local pub so he could ride two of Mrs Smith's other horses at Hexham.

Stagecoach Jasper came down early on the final circuit of the 3.10 race and, according to reports, the jockey was struck between the shoulder blades.

There were worrying scenes at the track when Mania was treated on the ground for some 25 minutes despite the arrival of the air ambulance from its base in Penrith, Cumbria.

He was placed aboard the helicopter on a spinal board and The Great North Air Ambulance Service said the jockey had neck and back injuries which were assessed by the on-board doctor as "severe/serious".

But they said he was in a stable condition when he arrived at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, following an eight minute flight.

Tonight, Paul Struthers, chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, tweeted: "@Mania450 is in hospital with friends and family. He's awaiting scan results. Fingers crossed not as bad as first feared. He thanks everyone for their well wishes. Further updates when we have them. £getwellsoon."

TV's face of racing Clare Balding tweeted earlier: "The highs & lows of jump racing - Ryan Mania wins the National yesterday, now being air lifted to hospital after a heavy fall at Hexham."

She added: "Hope Ryan Mania is ok. Jump jockeys are the toughest of the tough. He's on his way to hospital in Newcastle."

Clerk of the course James Armstrong said Mania was conscious and talking as he was taken to hospital.

Mr Armstrong said later: "His agent and his partner are with him. I know that he's had some scans and they are waiting for the results but there's no news more than that at the moment."

Mania is a former point-to-point rider from Galashiels in the Scottish Borders.

His fall came less than 24 hours after he became the first Scottish-born rider to win the world-famous steeplechase since 1896, when David Campbell won on The Soarer.

After his National triumph, Mania said: "I couldn't have asked for a better ride, and the old horse was loving it as well. I couldn't believe, even at the Melling Road, that I was still there.

"I was happy to be placed at that point, and then the front two stopped and I took off in front of them - it was unbelievable."

His victory marked a dramatic turnaround in his career, which was temporarily halted when he spent six months out of racing and working in the hunt service after his former boss Howard Johnson lost his training licence.

It was Mrs Smith and her husband Harvey - the former champion showjumper - who got him back into racing.

Stagecoach Jasper was not hurt.

Before Mania's fall, there had been a celebratory mood when Auroras Encore returned home in triumph.

The outsider visited the Dick Hudsons pub, near his West Yorkshire stables, where he was greeted by customers, staff and other well-wishers.

The 11-year-old is the first Yorkshire winner of the world's most famous steeplechase for 53 years.

With Mania engaged in Hexham, it was assistant trainer Ryan Clavin who led the horse down to the pub from his yard at Craiglands Farm, near Bingley, this morning.

But the jockey had found time to pose with the horse at the stables earlier with Mr and Mrs Smith.

Speaking before Mania's fall, Mrs Smith said: "We're past the stage of partying all night, so we made sure we got to bed.

"The horse has come out unbelievably well this morning. His legs are sound and he's quite chirpy considering he raced for nearly four-and-a-half miles."

Mr Smith said winning the Grand National was "a pinnacle of a career".

He too was speaking before Mania's fall at Hexham.

Mania's agent Bruce Jeffrey tweeted: "News regarding national hunt jockey Ryan Mania, he will (be) detained overnight for precautionary MRI scan tomorrow morning. Will update tomorrow.

"Ryan and his family appreciate all the kind wishes and would like to thank you all very much."

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