Inside the horse spa pampering Cheltenham Festival favourites

As the rain lashes down upon a rustic old dairy farm in deepest Gloucestershire, the sound of water can be heard inside its four walls.

A half-ton thoroughbred is splashing its way along a water treadmill, at the county's exclusive spa for racehorses.

Former top jockey Jason Maguire is watching his every move, as one wrong step could lead to a costly setback.

"The horse is called Get In The Queue and he's unbeaten in three races," he explains.

"He picked up a tendon injury in his last run so he's with us for rehab in the spa.

"He feels really good now and we hope he will be back on the racecourse soon."

A horse spa might sound like a luxurious treat for these majestic animals, but it is a serious business.

Get In The Queue's owners Paul and Clare Rooney have downsized their team of National Hunt horses and kept only the best- so they are eager for Noel Fehily's final career winner to thrive.

Injuries are part and parcel of the sport- and something their racing manager Maguire unfortunately knows too well.

On the eve of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, he went from fine tuning his preparation to lying in a hospital bed in an induced coma.

To this day he feels lucky to have survived the fall at Stratford.

"All of a sudden you go from thinking about a good book of rides at Cheltenham to being in intensive care for several weeks," Maguire said.

"The horse stepped at the hurdle, I went over his head and got a kicking. I was on the floor and couldn't get my breath.

"Nine times out of ten if you get morphine you are away but this was different.

"It was a blessing I didn't have any, as I had internal bleeding so it might have poisoned me.

"An air ambulance was there for another jockey who had a fall in the previous race.

"I was lucky it came out for him, otherwise I might have died."

Maguire gestures with his hands to show how the surgeon opened up the length of his torso on the operating table, acting swiftly to stem the bleeding.

The serious injuries, which included a fractured sternum, six broken ribs and a lacerated liver, forced him out of action for six months.

He had to have two more operations on a disc in his back, a problem that would irritatingly persist.

"I came back for season," he said.

"I had to have a driver as my back was so bad. I would lie down on the back seat of the car, take painkillers. My right leg would go numb and I would get sciatica.

"He had a great career but I was glad when he retired"

Behind every great man is a great woman the saying goes- and that runs true in the Maguire household.

Lauren met Jason by chance in 2002, when they crossed paths in their local shop in Stroud.

That year the nephew of fellow former top jockey Adrian Maguire celebrated his first Cheltenham Festival success on Galileo, trained at Tom George's stable just down the road.

Lauren watched on with pride as Jason's career went from strength to strength, reaching its peak in 2011 when he won the Grand National on 14/1 shot Ballabriggs.

"Jason was an excellent jockey," she said.

"He did it for the big winners."

For any jockey's wife or partner, there are inevitable bumps in the road.

Although Jason rode more than 1,000 winners and was second to AP McCoy in the 2012/13 title race, he suffered much injury hardship along the way,

"I would watch him race on a Saturday and the big days," said Lauren.

"Sometimes it wasn't easy not knowing what would happen next.

"When they have a crashing fall you just don't know.

"He had a great career but I was glad when he retired."

Not only did Jason spend many months recuperating from serious injuries, he also faced a constant battle with the scales.

"Jockeys are very tough lads. I saw what he went through on a daily basis just to ride," she said.

"Jason would get up at 4.45am, ride out, have four or five rides and would not be able to eat much at all.

"Usually it was a coffee and a chocolate bar, something small like chicken and vegetables in the evening and a sweat in the bath.

"He broke his neck ten days before our wedding after a fall at Cartmel and had to wear a brace.

"And when he had to stop riding, he felt he wasn't finished.

"With AP retiring he could have had a nice battle with Dicky for the championship, as he was runner-up when he had a clean run at it.

"It's hard when you are at the top of your game and it all ends just like that."

"It was awful really. I just couldn't go on riding the way I was. It was disappointing, as I was second to AP in the jockeys' championship.

"But I thought if I couldn't do it properly there was no point carrying on.

"I enjoyed my career immensely."

Maguire reluctantly quit in 2016 and by that time he was putting the wheels in motion for his new business at Ivy Lodge Farm.

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