THE family of an apprentice jockey who was killed ten years ago after being kicked in the head by a horse at a leading trainer’s yard near York are keeping his memory alive through a fundraising campaign.
Promising rider Philip Greally, 20, who dreamed of becoming a top jockey, was injured in the freak accident at Mick Easterby’s yard, near Sheriff Hutton, just before Christmas 2002.
Philip spent five days in hospital, but never regained consciousness.
His father, Colin, who lives in Newcastle, this week laid a wreath at his son’s grave in the Tyneside city on the tenth anniversary of his death.
Colin and his wife, Sheila, are ensuring Philip’s name lives on by raising money for Jack Berry House, a rehabilitation centre for injured jockeys which is planned for a site in Malton.
Newcastle-born Philip, a graduate of the Northern Racing College who took part in 14 flat races, had been working for leading trainer Mr Easterby at his New House Farm yard for more than four years when the accident happened on December 21, 2002.
At the time, he was believed to have stumbled as he tended to a horse and was accidentally kicked by another animal as it walked past him.
“It’s just so hard even now, ten years on,” said Mr Greally, 48.
“Just before he died, my wife spent every day at his bedside – she has never got over what happened. Although I will never forget my son, I’m trying hard to get on with my life.”
Since their son’s death, Mr and Mrs Greally have dedicated themselves to raising money for the Injured Jockeys Fund, but have now also chosen to support Jack Berry House.
“Mr Greally said: “We just wanted to do something in Philip’s memory.
“He was a very promising, up-and-coming rider and we hoped he would have made the grade.
“We will never know now – all we can do is think.
“It was heartbreaking to lose him at that age. We will never know if he was another Frankie Dettori. He loved horses and when he left school, he saw an advert in the paper for the racing school and he went for it.
“We went to see his first professional ride in Thirsk and we were all so proud of him.”
After Philip died, Mr Easterby paid tribute to the apprentice, describing him as “a brilliant lad” who had shown “great promise” in flat racing and planned to move on to National Hunt racing.