MOYROSS jockey, Wesley Joyce, was honoured at this year’s Horse Racing Ireland Awards, having bravely returned to the saddle after suffering a life-threatening fall last year.
Mr Joyce, (20), was put on life-support by doctors at University Hospital Galway after he sustained serious injuries in a fall at the Galway Races festival last year.
He had sustained a fractured larynx, broken ribs, a punctured lung and broken shoulder.
After miraculously pulling through and several months of painstaking rehabilitation, culminating in him securing his first post-fall win in August this year, the Moyross man picked up the Flat (Racing) Achievement Award at the 21st staging of the event at the Mansion House in Dublin, last Monday night.
The Limerick jockey’s story was already the stuff of dreams, having lifted himself out of the disadvantaged lanes of Moyross after he first attended an outreach programme in conjunction with the Moyross Youth Academy aged just five years old.
But the allure of horses might not have been as strong anywhere else in the country, as the estate and its youth have a close bond with the four-legged animals, which are considered by community activists there to be a welcome distraction from the pitfalls of poverty and crime.
“I come from what you’d call a rough enough area (Moyross). I’m proud of that. I’d like to think it shows there are good people from there and one small group can give a place a bad name,” Joyce said.
Following his first win back in the saddle last August, Joyce told Racing TV: “It’s been a awhile coming, I’ve been hitting the crossbars, I think I’m back three or four weeks and I’d three (2nd placings) and a couple of thirds, and I was thinking, ‘Jesus Christ when is the winner going to come, Trueba has been a good servant to me, so thanks to everybody for their support.”
“Since the fall, the journey has been hard, kept in the gym and doing things, but since I got back riding, and that’s all I ever wanted to do, I don’t want to do anything else, I just want to keep riding and whatever happens happens.”
Joyce’s injuries may have reduced his voice to a whisper but finishing the Irish flat season with eleven wins, have loudly declared his return to the sport.
“To say he has climbed a mountain is an understatement and he is a credit to himself and our sport,” remarked the IHRB’s Senior Medical Officer Jennifer Pugh at the time of Joyce’s emotional return to winning ways.
Other household names of Irish horse racing were also honoured on the night including, veteran trainer and former champion jockey Jessica Harrington; middd-west trainer, Aidan O’Brien; and retired jockey Davy Russell.
Horse Racing Ireland Chairman, Nicky Hartery, commented: “Our annual awards give deserved recognition to everyone who makes the Irish racing and breeding industries the outstanding successes they are.”
“I want to thank everyone for their efforts and dedication throughout the year and on this night, to single out all our winners with special consideration for Jessica Harrington, Davy Russell and to young Wesley Joyce, an absolute inspiration to us all.”