Thursday 23 January 2020

Lee set to join light brigade on the Flat

Grand National-winning rider Graham Lee is looking forward to a new career on the Flat after the Galway native announced he is to switch codes.

Lee landed the world's most famous steeplechase in 2004 on the Ginger McCain-trained Amberleigh House, and rode five Cheltenham Festival winners, including a treble in 2005 on Inglis Drever, No Refuge and Arcalis.

The 36-year-old cited weight issues as the reason, in that he has always found it a struggle to put on enough weight to ride over jumps.

Currently sidelined after a heavy fall at Southwell on February 15, Lee explained: "I'm going to concentrate on riding on the Flat. I've always had to work very hard keeping weight on me with training and it's just fallen off me since the latest fall that I took at Southwell.

"I got home from the hospital and I was 9st 12lb and I got on the scales this morning and I was 8st 12lb, so I've taken a stone off in just over five weeks.

"I love riding over jumps and I always have done. I got a fall at Huntingdon in '08 and suffered a bad head injury. I actually thought about it then, because I had to work so hard at being a stone above my fighting weight.

"Then last December I broke my collarbone and was parked up on the sofa for a couple of weeks. Then when that started to heal, I got back in the gym, got the weight back on again then had the fall in Southwell.

"I can't really face the gym to get a stone back on me, so I'm going to go Flat racing."

He added: "I've been in contact throughout this injury with Dr Turner (racing's chief medical advisor) and he said as long as my recovery keeps going, I should be back in the last week of April."

Lee's boss, Ferdy Murphy, said: "It's obviously a relief for him and it's a big disappointment for the yard.

"I'm not going to do anything stupid. We're near the end of the season now and I'll speak to my owners."

Irish Independent

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