Miracle jockey Brian Toomey denied dream win on comeback

Jockey Brian Toomey made one of the most remarkable comebacks in sporting history when he took his first competitive ride at Southwell Racecourse, following an almost fatal fall he sustained at Perth in 2013.

The Limerick-born jockey rode the Philip Kirby-trained Kings Grey having been technically dead for six seconds following his horror fall and having only been given a 3% chance of survival. However, on this occasion it was not to be the fairytale ending, with Toomey deciding to pull up Kings Grey, having led for much of the race.

Brian Toomey said after the race: “It was brilliant, it felt like I’ve never been out of the saddle. It was brilliant to be back on board, I’m really happy and it’s a goal nearly achieved. I just need to get a winner to put the icing on the cake. It was the right decision to pull the horse up, he didn’t feel great and I didn’t want to put the horse through hardship. He’s a gorgeous horse and we’ll have another day with him.”

Brian Dunn, owner of Kings Grey said: “Brian Toomey found the horse and said he would like to ride it on his comeback – so we all just made it happen for him. He’s made his comeback, he looked fantastic on the horse and I think everyone’s pleased he can get on with his career. I’ve known Brian for years and years, he’s ridden for me before and he’s bought a few horses for me. I was his sponsor for a number of years, so we’ve been very close over the past few years especially.”

Áine Finn, Brian’s sister who had travelled from Ireland with the rest of his family to watch the race said: “It was nerve wracking actually, with the build-up to today and Brian himself was very hopeful. It would have been the fairytale ending [if the horse had won] but to us it is the fairytale ending. He’s got up on a horse and succeeded and achieved his dream and we’re so proud of him that he’s persevered.”

Philip Kirby, trainer of Kings Grey said: “Everything was fine, obviously it was always going to be tricky with everyone watching him but it’s disappointing it hasn’t quite worked out. The horse seems fine, there doesn’t seem to be anything showing which is a bit of a mystery.”

Toomey had to overcome the longest odds of his life in order to make a full recovery and return to the saddle today. The Jump jockey spent two weeks in a coma, 157 days in hospital and had a large part of his skull removed and a titanium plate fitted, before beginning his long road of recuperation.