Irish amateur jockey JT McNamara — who suffered a severe spinal injury in a fall at the Cheltenham Festival — is now “fully alert”, but currently needs a ventilator to breathe.

The 37-year-old jockey fell from the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Galaxy Rock during the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup, a steeplechase for amateur riders, on Thursday 14 March.

He fractured the C3 and C4 verterbrae at the top of his spine. Although he was conscious after the fall, he had difficulty breathing and was taken to Frenchay Hospital, Bristol. He was placed in an induced coma, and it was confirmed last week that he has not suffered any brain injury.

He is due to be transferred to a hospital in Ireland to be closer to his family.

A popular member of the weighing room, JT has ridden more than 600 winners — including Teaforthree in the National Hunt Chase at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival.

A statement issued jointly by Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Irish Turf Club senior medical Officer and Lisa Hancock, of the Injured Jockeys Fund on behalf of the McNamara Family, read: “JT McNamara remains in a stable condition at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol. He is now fully alert but requires full time ventilation at present.

“In due course JT will be transferred to the National Spinal Unit at The Mater Hospital, Dublin where he will be closer to his family. His wife Caroline and family very much appreciate everyone’s continued good wishes and prayers on JT’s behalf.”