JONJO BRIGHT: THE TRUE CHAMPION OF IRISH HORSE RACING

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“Whether you think you can or can’t do something, either way you are going to be right” is the inspirational mindset of jockey Jonjo Bright, who was left paralyzed from the neck down following a horse racing accident in March 2013.

Born on December 19th, 1993, in Templepatrick, Co Antrim. Bright was a promising jockey which many have insisted “He was destined for big things, as he had the right attitude”

Unquestionably, Bright’s family life surrounded horse racing as his dad John, an exceptional rider, in his own right became the Northern Point to Point champion in 1993, with his mum Jayne winning the Novice Championship the same year. Meanwhile, his uncle Robert Patton was champion in 1999, and grandfather, William Patton rode numerous notable winners back in the 1960s. So ultimately his participation in the sport was never really in any doubt.

Arriving at the Tyrella Point-to-point course, in Co Down his luck seemed to be in as fellow jockey Connor McGuinness had been booked to ride the well fancied Cally Bridge in the novice race but, at the last moment, switched to Bettys Rascal, thinking it would be better suited to the hard going that day. Apparently, Bright was in the right place at the right time.  Shortly before the race, trainer Bernard Caldwell asked Jonjo who he had never met before, to take the ride.

On hazardously fast ground and jumping fences which had been freshly rebirched, it was not an ideal scenario for novice horses. Coming to the third fence on the second circuit, Jonjo knew he was in serious trouble as his mount went completely wrong, and the horse and jockey took an horrific fall which have insisted “It was absolutely horrifying to watch”.

Bright dislocated his C3 & C4 vertebrae, the disc between them destroyed. He was rapidly taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where, that evening, Niall Eames, a trauma and orthopaedic surgeon, operated on him. Though the operation had been a success, Jonjo was paralysed from the neck down and there would be no recovery.

Bright has been hailed as a hero, and an absolute role model for his inspirational outlook and determination from his life-changing incident, and never once has never given up hope in a recovery “Taking one day at a time is the only way forward”. Insists Bight

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Farming has become an enormous part of his life now away from the hustle and bustle of hospitals and physios, he finds great solace in organising the tasks and making sure everything is how it should be around his busy family farm “I adore keeping everything ticking over at home on the farm”.

Jonjo has recently embarked on an exercise regime and has regained movement in his arms, limited power in his leg and can wiggle his toes,

He has also been able to take thousands of steps with the help of a powered exoskeleton suit. Which he describes the suit as a “wearable robot” that he is strapped into during his training regime. “I refuse to think negative thoughts or to accept doctors’ diagnosis have helped my efforts to recover”, “I wasn’t listening to them,” adds Bright

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The big question on most people’s mind would be how did someone so young cope with the life changing accident which Bright quickly responded “I got through the early days by taking one day at a time and never looking too far into the future. I also developed a great ability to blank out negativity and learned to thrive off anything positive I could find

In Jonjo’s untimely short career in the saddle their where plenty of memorable times though he reminisces the most enjoyable times were working behind the scenes for the likes of Colin McKeever/Wilson Dennison and Warren Ewing “I was involved with high class horses such as Blacklion, Shaneshill, Briarhill and Sound Investment. I’ve really enjoyed watching horses like these go on and achieve what they have” adds Bright

The chances of returning to the saddle are realistically impossible but Bright has insisted he would like to eventually work in the industry once more perhaps in a bloodstock role

Bright has been momentously supported since his accident by the racing fraternity, and in particular, the Injured Jockey’s Fund which have been colossal help since his life changing injury, as they continue to go the extra mile to ensure he has everything he requires in his road to recovery, which he is determined to make the most out of any given opportunity.

Jonjo also has the immense support of his long-term girlfriend Reah Magee. Which he told her to move on with her life and to forget about him after the accident, but she bluntly refused, and they are still together to this day and if anything, the couple have got stronger.

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Positivity is infrequently seen in one so injured, but strong-minded Bright keeps striving to see the in good in every challenging thing that affects his life” ‘I’ve always been the type to see light at the end of the tunnel.’ Adds Bright

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow, you don’t realize your own strength until you come face to face with your greatest weakness as Jonjo Bright has been down a extremely difficult road but he is still smiling and looking forward to the future, unquestionably  “A true champion” that we will be hearing plenty more about in the forthcoming year’s.

Please show your support to the Jonjo Bright Fund trust