Jack Berry House: Inside the Yorkshire treatment centre for injured jockeys that fixes 'broken riders'
With its superb facilities and attractive surroundings, Jack Berry House in Malton, is in a league of its own. Since its official opening in 2015 by Princess Anne, a former Olympic equestrian, it has helped fix hundreds of "broken” jockeys.
"It's like family here, you are always met with a happy face, everyone is just friends," says Joanna Mason, one of the first to be treated here in 2016 for a broken back.
She has been coming in daily for ice compression treatment after breaking her ankle a fortnight ago when a pigeon flew out spooking her horse at her grandfather and trainer Mick Easterby's gallops, at Sheriff Hutton. "It was just one of those falls, nine times out of 10 you'd be fine. Granddad came and picked me up. They advised me here to pop into Malton for an X-ray, I wasn't in any pain.
"I was quite surprised it was a spiral fracture of the distula fibula. It's a non-weight bearing bone”.
Jo, who turned professional three years ago, aims to be back in the saddle in four weeks’ time.
The facilities include horserace simulators, a gym and a £500,000 hydrotherapy pool. Those using the underwater treadmill are videoed, so the physio can give the best advice. Jump jockey Callum Bewley, from Penrith, has been staying over a few days at a time since dislocating his shoulder in January. He said: "It's an unbelievable, brilliant, place.” Between them the three Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) centres which also include Oaksey House in Lambourn and Peter O’Sullevan House in Newmarket cost £2m a year to run. "We have people doing stuff (to raise money) all the time," says centre manager Jo Russell.
Yesterday Rory Bevin, an assistant trainer for Tim Easterby, completed a gruelling 268-mile ultramarathon. Legendary trainer Jack Berry – renowned for his red shirts - was one of the driving forces for setting up the IJF. He was inspired to help after Paddy Farrell was paralysed from the waist down after a fall in the 1964 Grand National.
Three months earlier, Tim Brookshaw had suffered similar injuries in a hurdles race. Jack organised a bucket collection at Wetherby. "Apparently there was a queue about a furlong long who wanted to donate,” said Jo. At the time you couldn’t get proper insurance cover, and if you had an injury you could go weeks without pay.
Retired jockey Brian Harding, now a coach jockey, says the place is a "massive advantage" to anyone racing: "They can come here and get fixed and often come back fitter than when they went in.” One thing is sadly for certain - the injuries will keep coming. Lead physio Sophie Phillips says they seem to come in cycles. "We seem to have picked up a lot of (shoulder) injuries with this hard ground. Last year we had four broken necks (not involving the spinal cord). They say it’s the only sport followed by an ambulance, which indicates the risk they take."