Jack Berry House, the £3.1 million rehabilitation centre for injured jockeys, was given the Royal Seal of Approval yesterday when it was officially opened by HRH Princess Anne.
She was joined by leading names from the world of racing, including AP McCoy and John Francome, who came out in force to show their support for the Injured Jockeys Fund’s (IJF) centre in Malton which will help train and rehabilitate injured jockeys based in the north of England.
The Princess Royal, Patron of the IJF, braved the rain to unveil a statue of Jack Berry, later describing his fundraising for the project as a “remarkable achievement.”
She said: “My good fortune was to be asked to take on the IJF after my grandmother and I am delighted to be here and see it through from its earliest days.
“Jack Berry House is very much open for business.
“I am certain it will add hugely to the jockeys based here in the North and others as well. It certainly is Jack Berry’s house.”
Mr Berry, the Vice President of the IJF, said: “Words can’t say about what I feel about this place. I am also proud of the many, many thousands of helpers who have donated money and time to make this possible.”
The Princess Royal has taken a keen interest in Jack Berry House, having been involved from its inception and visiting the site on several occasions during its 14-month construction period.
She is also aware of the importance of the Injured Jockeys Fund and its work, having been injured during a successful career in horse racing and dressage.
“Princess Anne has been knocked out, broken her arm and suffered other injuries,” said Brough Scott, Chairman of the IJF. “She understands the need for this centre, and also understands that the mindset of all sportsmen and women is ‘how quickly can I get back.’
Among the state of the art facilities at Jack Berry House designed to do this are a hydrotherapy pool, one of only three in the country, four separate consulting rooms which will be used by physiotherapist Gemma Darley, a nutritionist, JETS representative, sports physician, and Tom O’Ryan and Kevin Darley who will help improve the riding technique of younger jockeys.
Also key to the success of the centre is Danny Hague, a strength and conditioning coach, who has taken charge of the Don’t Push It gym, named after AP McCoy’s 2010 Grand National Winning horse.
Mr McCoy, who was given a tour of the gym, said: “I was very lucky. I had the benefit of Lambourn House which was basically the first rehabilitation centre. This is a great facility and great credit to Jack Berry - he should be very proud of today.
“He deserves all the credit for coming up with an idea and putting it all together.”
The team has already used its expertise to help jockey Jack Garritty who broke a collarbone at York Racecourse three weeks ago, but was back in action last week.
Jo Russell, manager of Jack Berry House, said: “Jack is the first person that has used the facilities on a daily basis in aiding his recovery from injury. To have him back in the saddle just two weeks afterwards was brilliant.”
Sitting alongside the fitness and treatment facilities at Jack Berry House are the Al Shaqab boardroom, which can be used for meetings, en suite bedrooms and shared living and kitchen rooms.
Mr Scott, himself a former jockey, said: “I am so thrilled that we have got to this day, it is such a great feeling.
“This has gone from an idea to a proposal, to a green site and a green design and then a building site where it takes a sense of belief that it’s going to happen and now we are here today.
“It’s a great leap forward, not just for treatment but for understanding. This is about injury prevention as much as about treatment. The beautiful thing about jockeys is they all know they going to get injured - and that’s fine.
“We can’t make it a safe sport but we can make jockeys stronger when they face the risks.”