Video from At The Races: Paralysed jump jockey with an Olympic dream!. Just over a year since a career-ending fall left former jockey Jacob Pritchard Webb paralysed from the waist down, the 24-year-old is heading to Sheffield next month for the start of what he hopes is a magical journey to the Paralympics.
Pritchard Webb was an aspiring British jump jockey who like many relocated to France in search of winners.
He attached himself to the yard of leading French trainer Emmanuel Clayeux but a heavy fall on Bert Lefevre’s Galant Des Boulats changed everything.
Recalling the accident, which occurred during the opening chase at Auteuil on June 23, 2020, Pritchard Webb told Sky Sports Racing: “I remember everything. As I was rolling I lost the feeling from the waist down immediately.
“The pain in my back felt like someone was poking something directly into T4, which is the vertebrae that was badly broken. It was like they were pushing my chest outwards.
“You get what’s called a phantom sensation and my brain was telling me my legs were in the air. I’ve watched the fall back and actually I’m star-fished on the ground.”
Having spent 178 days in hospital in France, Pritchard Webb returned to the UK to continue his recovery at Oaksey House, the flagship rehabilitation centre of the Injured Jockeys Fund.
Table tennis – a pastime which started in France and has continued at rehab in Lambourn – has now turned into a real passion for Pritchard Webb.
He joined a club near his home in Leicester and is already signed up to Team GB’s future stars programme, where he will compete against the nation’s hottest prospects in July.
“I wanted to compete still,” Pritchard Webb said. “There’s still that drive there.
“It’s a long road but they say there’s potential. They say: ‘Don’t be looking at Paris [Paralympics in 2024] but definitely be looking at all the major Games afterwards.
“It’s something to get you out of bed in the morning.”
Despite being unable to reach the very top ranks of jump racing, Pritchard Webb’s life as a jockey is what he is most proud of.
“A lot of people say: ‘You’re inspirational’,” he said. “I don’t believe that. I have to do this.
“Maybe I don’t have to be as busy but that’s helped me and my mental state even more.
“I’ve gone through a variety of emotions. I’ve been through it all, a lot of bad days.
“I joke now when they say: ‘You’re incredibly positive’, it’s because I was so miserable for. There was only one way it could go.
“What I achieved riding is more inspirational. There were so many down days, so many closed doors, so many missed opportunities but I didn’t give up.
“To move to another country, learn another language and another style of riding and then to actually get somewhere that I feel is more of an achievement.”
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