On Saturday 28th February Leo Varadkar, experienced up close horse-racing action like never before when he rode aboard the ambulance during the 4.25pm race at Leopardstown. Irish Injured Jockeys Fund extended an invitation to our Minister for Health to take a trip around the track in the ambulance with senior Medical Officer of the Turf Club, Adrian Mc Goldrick and Chairman of IIJF and champion jockey Ruby Walsh. This was a superb opportunity to enlighten him on the risks jockeys take every day and to increase awareness for charities like IIJF who are vital to jockeys when suffering as a result of injury.
The sense of fear for each rider was obvious from within the ambulance and this was merely from spectating the jockeys, much worse being a participating rider in the race. The Minister experienced the speed at which the jockeys travel and understood the risks that they engage in throughout their careers. Afterwards he spoke to some of the jockeys in the weighing room and got an insight into some of the work carried out by the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund in helping our injured riders.
“The Irish hospice foundation has a fundraiser here and that’s why I was here today but I was invited to go into the ambulance and it was a very worthwhile experience. I had never been up so close to a horse-race before and you get a sense of the danger the jockeys face. When I was Minister for Sport, I was very conscious of injuries in sport, especially concussion in rugby. Racing has a really good medical team and Dr Adrian McGoldrick does a great job. I enjoy racing and used to live beside the old Phoenix Park when I was young.” Leo Varadkar, Minister for Health.
Ruby Walsh spoke afterwards, “After his ride in the ambulance I think the minister was taken aback by the speed at which jockeys travel during a race and he took comfort in knowing that a fund such as Irish Injured Jockeys is in place for injured riders to get support when convalescing after an injury which is unfortunately a regularity in this sport.”
Dr. Adrian Mc Goldrick, as Medical Officer of the Turf Club knows all too well the risks involved in horse racing and how charities like IIJF are vital to supporting injured riders in their hour of need. “The Minister showed a genuine interest in our jockey’s welfare inquiring about injury stats and types of injuries sustained by jockeys on a regular basis. He was particularly interested in our robust concussion protocol. He experienced a front row view of horse racing in action and appreciated the high level of risk that jockeys take every day. Racing is the only sport where two doctors and two ambulances follow you at all times.”