TOM GARNER is hoping the biggest day of his riding career will not be scuppered after he broke his leg in three places on Monday.
Barnsley-based jump jockey Garner, 23, risks life and limb every time he goes out to ride, but the freak accident occurred when he was helping out at the Flat racing yard of Charlie Hills in Lambourn.
Garner was teaching an unraced two-year-old how to use starting stalls when he was deposited on the ground in what he describes as a ‘soft fall’.
Taken to Great Western Hospital in Swindon, Garner was found to have broken his fibula and his ankle in two places.
The unfortunate injury now puts in jeopardy his scheduled visit to the Czech Republic to ride in the world famous Pardubice Steeplechase.
“The summer can be a quiet time for jump jockeys and I rang and asked whether Charlie needed any help this week,” said Tom. “I was working there all last summer.
“It seemed like a soft fall at the time but all I could think about while I was on the ground was how long I was going to out.
“As well as the Pardubice I was due to have rides in Jersey and Switzerland and I had work lined up in France.”
Garner now has two screws and a plate in his leg and has been told he will be in plaster for eight weeks and unable to return to race riding for three and half months – which would give him just days to prepare for the Pardubice on Sunday, October 12.
He intends to prove the medics wrong by coming back a month earlier.
“I’m not unfamiliar with injury,” said Tom. “I have broken my left collar bone eight times - twice requiring operations – and my right collar bone once, as well as a few busted teeth along the way.
“I can’t feel my leg at the moment after it was nerve blocked due to complications with the surgery and the fact that I was in agony.
“One of the nurses could not understand why I was not making a fuss and asked what the pain was like on a scale of 1-10 and I said 12!
“But then jump jockeys get used to pain.”
Garner had a successful getting-to-know-you session with big-race mount Cantridara over the big Pardubice fences recently but will now miss her next race on June 28 along with two other races on the card in the Czech Republic.
“I tried to get my brother Ollie the rides but they have chosen another jockey mate I recommended, James Banks, who is based in Marlborough,” said Tom.
“I can’t explain how gutted I feel but I will be doing everything I can to get back in time for the Pardubice.
“A group of about 10 mates were going to make a weekend of it in Prague as well as taking in the race, and my mum and grandmother were also due to make the trip.”
Garner leaves hospital this week and his recovery will include a two-week residential stay at Oaksey House in Lambourn, a specialist rehab centre run by the Injured Jockeys Fund.