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‘I died for six seconds – I want to achieve the impossible again’

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A former jockey who was clinically dead for six seconds says he wants to “achieve the impossible again” by training a winner.

Brian Toomey was given a 3% chance of surviving, spent 157 days in hospital and had a metal plate inserted in his skull after a fall six years ago.

He returned to riding in races before doctors ruled he could not carry on, and now he has a new aim.

“I want to sell a dream,” the 30-year-old told BBC Sport.

“To be a trainer is my final goal in life.”

Toomey was injured when his mount Solway Dandy fell at the third last hurdle and propelled the jockey head first into the ground.

Paramedics later told him he died for six seconds before coming round.

“They resuscitated me. Then I was rushed to the hospital with a 3% chance of survival. My family were prepared for the worst,” said the Limerick-born rider.

Doctors cut out a section of his skull to help quell the effects of brain swelling while he was kept in an induced coma.

Two years later, he defied doubters by making a competitive return to the saddle but retired in June 2016.

Brian Toomey's skull scan

The Irishman, now based in the Berkshire racing heartland of Lambourn, has opened up about the effects a serious brain injury had on his life and how he is determined to start afresh and confound expectations once again.

Asked how he felt in the months and years since the fall, Toomey said: “It was horrific and the only thing that helped my recovery was to prove the doctors wrong and show I was mentally strong.

“I didn’t take criticism very well. I held it against people that were trying to kill my dreams.

“People are unaware of how much a brain injury can change you. There are nearly a billion nerves and you don’t really know which ones are damaged. I had to resit my driving test, your thought process is never the same.”

Modest and witty, Toomey manages to carry a cheery air despite the trauma. He has been helped with his rehabilitation by the Injured Jockeys’ Fund and psychologists.

He still rides out horses on a regular basis for Clive Cox, a leading Flat racing trainer, and believes his experiences will be beneficial to starting out as a trainer himself.

Now he is hoping that someone who has followed his astonishing comeback will back his venture or lend help in trying to find a yard that he can rent.

“It would mean the absolute world to me to train a winner. I was dead for six seconds – to do that would mean I had achieved the impossible again,” said Toomey.

“My goal is to make a start, probably in Flat racing, and get the best out of every horse. I want to attract every kind of racehorse owner.

“For a long time, my story was a sob story. Now I’m networking as much as I can. I’m trying to sell myself – you need to know you have a purpose in life.”

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BBC Sport – Horse Racing

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