Racing: Murphy shows positive signs

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The Independent Online
DECLAN MURPHY continued to show signs of improvement in Walton Hospital yesterday as his colleagues in racing sought to improve safety in the sport.

Murphy, who suffered severe head injuries in a fall from Arcot at Haydock on Monday, has had two brain scans since being admitted to the hospital's Intensive Therapy Unit, but it was not thought necessary to give him another yesterday. 'He remains seriously ill but his condition is improving,' a spokeswoman said.

Reports from those who have visited the jockey, who is now breathing unaided after being taken off a ventilator, suggest he is beginning to respond to stimuli. The jockey reacted when a mobile phone went off at his bedside and is said to have made a thumbs up sign and flickered his eyes.

Meanwhile, an improved riding helmet, giving added protection, is to be unveiled today. A prototype has been worn this week at Chester by John Reid, a vice-president of the Jockeys' Association, and given approval.

There is also a groundswell against the introduction of National Hunt racing throughout the year. Originally thought to be a boon for lower ranking jockeys, competition in the summer months and the accompanying factors of horses travelling even faster and falling on hard ground are now under scrutiny. Adrian Maguire, among other jockeys, has said that falls at this time of the season are the worst in the sport.

Another rider, Tony Carroll, was so affected by Murphy's accident that he announced his retirement this week. Carroll, 37, rode more than 150 winners over jumps in 21 years in the saddle, the last of them on Jawani at Southwell on Monday, and had planned to compete until the end of the season.

Murphy's predicament has struck home the dangers of jump racing, and other former weighing-room colleagues also provide reminders.

Nigel Hawke, who won the Grand National on Seagram in 1991, is gradually regaining fitness following a fall at Exeter six months ago. Like Murphy, he had a blood clot removed, and also suffered partial paralysis and enduring blurred vision. He, though, still aims to return, an ambition impossible for Nigel Coleman, who had a stroke shortly after a heavy fall at Worcester two years ago.

Coleman used to ride for the Bristol stable now run by Murphy's brother Pat, and the latter has a wish for his younger sibling should he make a full recovery. He does not want him to ride again.

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