Irish jockey Bryan Cooper has told how doctors feared he would lose his leg when he fell at Cheltenham last year.
The 23 year-old jockey who is retained by Gigginstown House, broke his leg twice in the last two and a half years. The worst fall was at Cheltenham last year when he broke both bones in his right leg.
“It was a bad break the second time at Cheltenham. I shattered my tibia and fibia, it was a compound fracture and there was basically a total chip taken out of the bone. It was about an inch and a half of the bone that just totally broke off,” he told the Irish Independent talks stage at the National Ploughing Championships this afternoon.”
“It was a very bad break. I was lucky, I was very well looked after in Cheltenham. I went to Bristol Hospital which was probably one of the best hospitals in the UK at the time.”
“It was a tough road. I was out for eight and a half months with physio and recovery... You try not to think about it. I was lucky enough to come back from injury when I had two very good horses to ride, so that gives you confidence and a boost to get back.”
“Obviously the day you start thinking about it is the day you’d probably want to retire so hopefully we won’t be thinking about that again,” he told Irish Independent sports writer Colm Keyes.
Cooper shared a house with fellow jockey Robbie McNamara before he suffered a fall last April that left him paralysed from the waist down. McNamara, who is now in a wheelchair, hopes to become a horse trainer.
“He’s in great spirits. If you saw him today, you wouldn’t believe it only happened in May. He’s come on leaps and bounds, and we still chat a lot. Obviously he’s got his own place now, and you try and put it behind you and just move on.”
“It’s just part of the game we’re in... you have to deal with those things and move on. He’s one of the unlucky ones that that happened to,” Cooper said.
Though Cooper follows a lean diet while preparing for races, his favourite meal has become a McDonald’s or a Supermacs takeaway.
“When we’re on the road a lot it’s hard to find [restaurants] late at night... the only logic to that is to stop off at the nearest Supermacs or McDonald’s, I know it’s not ideal but to be fair it’s just handy and quick.”
“There would be a lot of takeaways on the road.”
He added: “It’s a tough game, I’m only 23, I look at Paul Carberry who unfortunately broke his leg last Sunday in Listowel. He’s 41 now. Obviously you’d like to run until that age. You could be very, very lucky or unlucky.”
“You never know what’s around the corner.”