Miracle man Brian Toomey ready for new chapter as a trainer
Brian Toomey has had to overcome more hurdles than most, and in completing the modules necessary to become a licensed trainer this week he has taken a major step forward in his bid to write the next chapter of his racing life.
A determined Toomey spoke of his delight at moving closer to a career as a trainer after fulfilling the requirements at the British Racing School in Newmarket.
He said: "The course has been challenging because as jockeys we're not used to sitting in the classroom every day from 8am to 5pm – I'm sure I nearly got expelled about ten times from school growing up.
"I'm really hoping I can be supported in this new chapter and that the goodwill of racing people hasn't worn off. It's almost four years since my accident and I'm still here ready to give this everything I've got.
"This is the goal and what has kept me going – the thought of being competitive with horses."
In July 2013 Toomey suffered a terrible fall at Perth, which paramedics said left him clinically dead for six seconds. He spent 157 days in hospital, where he had metal plates inserted into his skull.
Despite being given a three per cent chance of survival by doctors and funeral arrangements being made by his family, Toomey recovered – and to such a remarkable extent that he was able to return to the saddle briefly.
Ear to the ground
He continued: "Although initially the plan was to come back riding, training was always on the cards.
"You see plenty of jockeys who are focused purely on the next ride and not taking in what's going on around them, but I always had my ear to the ground in dealing with horses, having bought and sold lots of winning horses. In the last ten minutes I've actually just sold a pony to Gina Bryce."
Toomey, alongside seven other aspiring trainers at the BRS, learned about the broad range of elements involved in managing a yard, with everything from administrative guidance to staff management, plus a visit from BHA chief handicapper Phil Smith.
"In between the courses I've been riding out for Clive Cox but the process is probably a little bit more full-on than in Ireland," he said. "It was hugely helpful with the business side of things and hopefully that will stand me in good stead."
The logistics of the 28-year-old Limerick man's training endeavours have not been finalised yet, with support from owners obviously essential in his bid to make a go of it.
"I'm not certain where I'll be training from, but I'll certainly be in Britain," he said. "Racing in Britain is all I know. I know the scene inside out, which makes it easier for me to work out the form."
"I've been fortunate to have good people around me, but of all the horsemen I've spent time with one who really stands out would be Roger Marley, who generally deals with horses for breeze-up sales," he said.
"In my opinion those who ready horses for breeze-up sales are as impressive as those training winners on the racecourse. I learned an awful lot from working with Roger, and previously Kevin Ryan.
"I spent time shadowing bloodstock agent Stephen Hillen and there's no doubt it's improved my ability to spot one."
He continued: "My approach to training will be to attract a business- style owner for whom I'll try to make the process pay for itself.
"I'd love to be in a position where I could get one off the mark first time in a bumper or a two-year-old maiden, give the owner the best possible chance of enjoying a winning day, and then potentially sell the horse to maintain the running of things as a business.
"I couldn't put a timeframe on when I can get this off the ground. The next step is finding owners willing to support me, building a training platform and completing the training licence process. I'm going to give it absolutely everything."