TOP jockey Graham Lee has suffered a “very serious” spinal injury after his terrible fall.
The former Grand National winner remains in intensive care. Doctors say it is too early “to predict the extent of long-term recovery.”
The 47-year-old Irishman was taken to hospital after he slipped as his horse Ben Macdui left the pits during a sprint handicap at Newcastle Racecourse on Friday.
In an update on his condition, the Injured Jockeys’ Fund said Lee “suffered an unstable cervical fracture resulting in damage to the spinal cord.”
They added that he had “damage to the blood vessels in the middle neck area.”
The “very popular” driver is currently receiving medical attention for his breathing in the ITU at the Royal Infirmary Hospital in Newcastle.
The fund said: “This is a very serious injury and at this stage it is not possible to predict the extent of any long-term recovery.”
“Graham’s family is very grateful for the many messages of support they have received.”
Lee’s over 1,000 wins include the 2004 Grand National at Amberleigh House and the Gold Cup with Trip to Paris 11 years later.
Overall, he has been just as successful in flat racing since 2012 as he was before on jumps.
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Dale Gibson, the interim chief executive of the Professional Jockeys Association, explained how Lee’s accident shocked the racing world.
He said: “Any time a jockey gets injured there is always a real sense of community and group and that is very much the case now.”
“Graham is extremely popular and what he has achieved in this sport is incredible.”
“The PJA and the Weighroom would like to extend our best wishes to Graham and his family.”
And broadcasting legend Derek Thompson underlined the outpouring of affection for the injured rider across the sport.
The BBC racing presenter wrote: “Graham Lee is simply one of the best, both in and out of the saddle.”
“A first class rider and the first to say hello on the track – always the one to laugh and joke with. Sending prayers and strength, Big Fella, for a successful recovery.”
Lee had won 47 of his 598 races that season, including 15 for Ben Macdui’s trainer Paul Midgley.
He lives in Bedale, North Yorkshire with his wife and their daughter and son.