'Freaky fall' sidelines Burke
Jonathan Burke faces up to three months on the sidelines after suffering a second incidence of fractured vertebrae this year in a fall at his father Liam's yard on Tuesday.
Last year's champion conditional jockey, who is retained to ride Alan and Ann Potts' elite string of horses, was informed last night after a consultation with a spinal specialist that surgery would not be required.
The 20-year-old, one of the rising stars of the jumping game, sustained stable fractures to his T3 and T4 following a fall at Thurles in January. That kept Burke sidelined for over five weeks, and he is likely to be out for up to three months this time.
He is to be fitted with a brace and may be discharged from Cork University Hospital this morning, should he feel sufficiently well to go home.
However, his father was philosophical about the lay-off, given that it is the third time that he has fractured vertebrae, which can potentially be such a hazardous injury.
"He has fractured his T6 vertebra, but everything is moving and he has full use of his limbs, so it could be a lot worse," Liam Burke said yesterday.
"He is comfortable and in good form now, although he was in savage pain at the time. The doctor that saw him last night felt it was an unstable fracture, but they are happy enough with it now not to operate. Initially they thought he might need surgery to pin it, but he will just be fitted with a brace instead.
"He fractured his C3 in his neck in a fall when he was pony racing, so he has been unlucky, but that's the nature of the job. When you ride as many horses as he does, you are going to get falls.
"He jumped two circuits of Aintree on Saturday in the Grand National (when fifth on Goonyella) and had a superb time, and then he gets a stupid fall at home - there is no law to it.
"It was a freaky fall. They were only cantering and the horse is a good jumper, but whatever he did, he took an awful fall at the very first jump. When you get a fall on sand, you don't roll, and that's what happened."
Last year's Galway Plate-winning rider will miss the Punchestown Festival finale, where the Potts' main trainer Henry de Bromhead has quality entries such as Supasundae, Smashing and Sizing John. If Burke's recovery goes well, then he should be back in competitive action in time for the Ballybrit festivities that get underway on July 25.
A year ago, he and Goonyella were just denied in the Scottish National.
The 2016 renewal of the £210,000 Ayr showpiece takes place on Saturday, and Willie Mullins' Measureofmydreams heads the betting at 8/1, as the champion trainer strives to maintain his lead (£164,146) over Paul Nicholls in his quest for a British title.
Measureofmydreams is owned by Michael O'Leary, whose Gigginstown Stud colours have already been carried to glory in this year's Grand National and its Irish equivalent.
Rogue Angel, the Mouse Morris-trained horse that secured a famous win at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday, is in at Ayr, as is the firm's 2015 winner of the Irish race, Thunder And Roses.
However, Morris has said that the bid for a National treble will rest with Gigginstown's Folsom Blue (25/1), as Rogue Angel goes to Punchestown.
Gordon Elliott's JP McManus-owned Cause Of Causes, which won the Kim Muir at Cheltenham but missed the cut for Aintree, is second favourite at 11/1.
Mullins has 17 entries at the two-day meeting that begins tomorrow. He has Clondaw Warrior and Ivan Grozny in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, while the smart novice Nambour, which Burke trained to win its point-to-point, is in a novice hurdle tomorrow.