Irish jockey JT McNamara has undergone surgery at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, after a fall at the Cheltenham Festival on Thursday, 14 March.

JT, who is 37, fractured the C3 and C4 verterbrae at the top of his spine when he fell from the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Galaxy Rock at the first fence in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup — a steeplechase for amateur jockeys.

He was conscious after the fall, but had difficulty breathing and was placed in an induced coma. Galaxy Rock was reported to be unhurt.

Dr Adrian McGoldrick, who is senior medical officer at the Irish Turf Club, said: “He is currently in theatre. His wife Caroline is with him.”

Also on Thursday, Matuhi, trained by David Pipe, had to be put down after falling at the last fence in the Byrne Group Plate.

And jockey Davy Russell was ruled out of riding the leading Gold Cup contender, Sir Des Champs this afternoon with a punctured lung.

Davy, 34, was injured in a fall from Un Beau Matin in Wednesday’s Coral Cup and recovered to take his first two rides on Thursday. But problems resurfaced — and he returned to hospital.

AP McCoy will take the ride.

“It’s a dangerous sport,” said AP, talking to BBC Radio 5 Live. “We’re very lucky that we have excellent medical care. We just hope he [JT McNamara] is ok.”

Update 18 March

Statement issued on Saturday, 16 March by Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Irish Turf Club Senior Medical Officer and Lisa Hancock, CEO, Injured Jockeys Fund on behalf of the McNamara Family.

“We can report that following lengthy surgery yesterday JT McNamara is in a stable condition. He remains in an induced coma at Frenchay hospital, Bristol. No further updates will be released until Tuesday 19 March and the family politely request that the media do not contact Frenchay hospital direct. They would also like to thank everyone for their kind support and best wishes for JT.”