Meehan hopes for reversal of fortune
Chris Meehan was back on a horse yesterday less than two months after what must be among the most unusual accidents in sporting history.
The Northern Irish jockey was suffering enough from a fall in a hurdle race at Merano, in Italy, having been knocked unconscious and kicked in the face, leaving him with a broken nose and a gash on his jaw that required 27 stitches.
However, Meehan's cursed afternoon was about to get worse when the ambulance arriving to take him for treatment reversed over his right leg and broke it.
The bizarre tale went viral, aided by the 22-year-old's great spirit and gallows humour. He gamely pointed out that many members of his family were involved with ambulances and his father even taught people how to drive them.
"I went over to Brian Hamilton, near Downpatrick, he was a trainer who helped me get started as a jockey, and he kindly let me come down and ride," said Meehan yesterday. "It was great to sit up on a horse again, but I could never see myself doing anything else. I'm just taking it one day at a time. The break has healed but I still have a bit of ligament damage and it does cause me a bit of pain. Luckily, Cloughey Beach is near home and I've been down there exercising in the sea, as the salt water is good for injuries."
Italian jump racing is not Premier League stuff and a good-as-new Meehan, with his nose back in place, could use some impetus. He has ridden eight British Flat and five jumping winners in his career. "The weight's good and I'll hopefully be back at the end of September or early October," he said.
"I've had a couple of job offers but it's undecided where I'll go at the minute."
Veteran jockey Franny Norton's career may be at the other end of the scale, but he has been given a terrific opportunity of a first Group One winner by landing the spare ride on Dancing Star in Saturday's 32Red Sprint Cup.
David Probert has been on board for all five of the improving three-year-old's victories, culminating in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood, but he broke his wrist a fortnight ago and is still out of action.
"He [Norton] knows Haydock well and has ridden good winners both for me and owner Jeff Smith in the past, plus he's riding better than ever," said trainer Andrew Balding, who has strong claims of another Pattern winner as early as today's Bathwick Tyres Dick Poole Fillies' Stakes at Salisbury. It is still early days for Perfect Angel, whose Goodwood maiden success seems to be working out nicely. (© Daily Telegraph, London)