AP McCoy fought back tears as he gave an emotional update on his friend Graham Lee, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a horror fall in Newcastle earlier this month.
Lee, the only jockey to win the Grand National and Ascot Gold Cup, was unmounted when the boxes opened on November 10 due to a sprint handicap.
The 47-year-old suffered an unstable cervical fracture that caused damage to his spinal cord and has undergone two procedures to stabilize the fractures and further protect his spinal cord.
Legendary jockey McCoy, working for ITV Racing at Cheltenham on Saturday, visibly fought back tears as he spoke about Lee as he was comforted by presenter Ed Chamberlin.
As his voice began to break, he said, “It’s been the worst week.
Legendary jockey AP McCoy fought back tears as he gave an update on friend Graham Lee
Ruby Walsh (left) intervened for McCoy after noticing he was visibly upset, with the legendary jockey briefly turning away as he tried to regain his composure
Lee (pictured) suffered an unstable cervical fracture that caused damage to his spinal cord and has undergone two procedures to stabilize the fractures and further protect his spinal cord
‘One small positive would be that Ritchie McGrath and his wife Becky FaceTimed me with Graham last night… but when I say the worst week, I really mean it.’
Ruby Walsh noticed McCoy’s distress and intervened with a comment, while Chamberlin reached out to comfort the 49-year-old.
McCoy continued, “He underwent surgery on Wednesday to stabilize his fractures. There is a lot of swelling and bruising around the spinal cord. It’s going to be a long road, you know.
“It’s a long road and it will be a long road for Becky and the family. We never know in the world where things can go and what the medicines will bring us.
“With a little luck, God can be good, and I think everyone right now wishes he were good.”
Fans responded with sympathy for McCoy, but also praised Walsh for stepping in when he noticed his fellow expert’s distress.
One person tweeted: ‘Pure class from Ruby Walsh. I see that AP is having a hard time and steps in so he can take some time. My thoughts are with Graham Lee, his family and his friends.
Nick Metcalfe commented: ‘Very moving to see the support Ed Chamberlin is offering to Sir AP McCoy here, not to mention Ruby Walsh’s intervention when he saw how much his friend was struggling. One of the true greats of the sport for me, AP. I have always considered it a privilege to speak with him.’
McCoy eventually continued talking, but was still emotional as he spoke about Lee’s “long road” to recovery
ITV Racing presenter Ed Chamberlin reached out to console McCoy during his update on Lee
A JustGiving page set up by Lee’s daughter Amy has already raised £120,000, along with messages of goodwill
While another person wrote: ‘I think I speak for the entire racing community when I say we feel AP McCoy’s emotions, and support him, Graham and Graham’s family during this difficult time. I wish only the best.’
The sun reported that McCoy made a ‘3am dash’ to get Lee’s daughter to his bedside while he was in intensive care at Newcastle Royal Infirmary.
In the meantime, more than £140,000 has been raised thanks to a JustGiving fundraiser put together by Lee’s daughter Amy, as well as the Injured Jockeys Fund.
On Friday, the Injured Jockeys Fund said Lee has made “positive progress” following his operations.
A statement from the Injured Jockeys’ Fund said: ‘Graham has made positive progress over the past 24 hours and has been able to talk normally to his family for short periods when his ventilator has been switched off.
‘He has been assessed by his spine consultant and when a bed becomes available at the ITU at James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough, he will be transferred closer to home.
“Graham and his family would like to thank everyone for their continued and overwhelming support.”