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Rider ‘overwhelmed’ by support after breaking back in fall

A British rider who broke his back in a French racing fall is making good progress and hopes to move from hospital to a specialist rehabilitation centre next week.

Jacob Pritchard Webb, 23, broke his T4 and T6 vertebrae as well as dislocating his C6, and sustained broken ribs, sternum and lung damage in a fall at Auteuil on 23 June.

The horse, Galant Des Boulats, was uninjured but the fall resulted in Jacob sustaining a compressed spinal cord, meaning he is currently paralysed from the waist down. His spinal cord was not severed, but his injuries are serious.

“The operations have been successful and now my medication is down to as minimal as possible just to keep any little bits of pain away,” Jacob told H&H yesterday (23 July), exactly a month since the accident.

“I’ve just found out that I will be moving to a rehabilitation centre in Paris on 3 August and so it’s a case of keeping things ticking along here until then. That’s when the proper physio can start and I should have healed enough to be able to crack on.

“The doctors and physios have been fantastic.”

The former Hartpury College student rode as an amateur in Britain and had a number of point-to-point winners over several seasons. He spent time working for Sir Mark Prescott, Fergal O’Brien and Emma Bishop’s yards, before moving across the Channel to pursue his career as a jump jockey.

“Mum and Dad drove straight out to France after the accident and have been here ever since,” he said, adding that the support from his family, friends, Injured Jockeys Fund’s (IJF) chief executive Lisa Hancock and the racing industry has been “quite overwhelming”.

“Friends have come out from the UK and having lived her for a year I’ve got a sort of French family going on as well with the lads from the race yards, fellow jockeys, owners, my boss [trainer Emmanuel Clayeux] and his wife. They have all really got behind me.

“It was such a big accident and you never expect something like that to happen to you, or to someone you know, and they’ve all been behind me the whole way.”

Jacob’s dad, Matt, added that the physios have been “really impressed by his work ethic”.

“He has a really good rapport with them and can have a laugh at the same time,” he said.

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One of Jacob’s best friends, Alice Cosgrove, set up a GoFundMe page to help with his recovery costs, and close to £20,000 has been raised in two weeks.

“I’ve known Alice since we were studying at Hartpury together seven years ago and we rode in point-to-points together,” he said, adding he cannot believe the support it has had.

“Hopefully that money will be used to help with a new wheelchair and any adaptations to my parents’ house that might be needed with me living there. Then any money not used and the chair, when I hopefully no longer have use of it, will be donated to the IJF.”

Jacob has been using his time in hospital to further his career plans in bloodstock.

“I’ve always had an interest in it and I was living in Newmarket I would go along to the sales,” he said, adding that he is fascinated by how the industry works in France as well as the links with top British and Irish success stories from Mr Clayeux’s yard and further afield.

Since first mentioning his career plans, bloodstock agents have got in touch to offer advice and support.

“What started out as an idea is turning out to be something I’m really interested in — I’m reading the sales books and I have plenty of time on my hands!” he added.

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