Right now I have a special interest in studying equestrians recovering from broken bones. How long before they rode again? How injured were they? Did it make them more cautious.
For example, champion UK jockey Ruby Walsh fractured his tibia at Punchestown in November, but he set his sights on the Cheltenham Festival, which starts tomorrow, right after his fall, timing his recovery almost to the hour.
“A broken leg is usually 12 weeks [to heal], give or take. 16 weeks and three days from the fall to the Cheltenham, so I have 15-and-a-half weeks or 15-and-three-quarters to be ready.
Ruby Walsh to RacingUK.com
I can say from personal experience that the amount of time it takes for a bone to heal does not necessarily mean you are back to normal, though. I’m seven weeks into my healing and even though I’m now moving slowly around on crutches, it’s exhausting. While I will likely be walking in another week or so, the idea of competing over hurdles is beyond comprehension. However, Walsh is on track for his comeback after steering Lareena to a clear-cut victory at Thurles last Thursday.
“It’s great to be back. As regards tactical awareness and match fitness, the horse is the one that’s doing all the running. Yes, race riding is a huge physical exertion, but the jockey is the tactician. It’s about mental sharpness, not physical. The last time I came back, I hadn’t done much riding.”
Ruby Walsh on his return to racing.
At 38, Walsh has been leading rider at Cheltenham 11 times — and has his sights set on being the leading rider for the sixth year running in 2018. What are the odds that he’ll succeed? Sky Bet puts him as the 4/6 favorite. And if he succeeds in Cheltenham, the next stop will be the Aintree Grand National where people are already evaluating the potential runners and sussing out the competition.
Walsh will likely have his pick of horses to ride at Cheltenham. The question remains only whether he gets a good trip and whether his leg (and his fitness) are up to the job.
Me? I’m not sure yet when I’ll be allowed back on my horse but I don’t think I’ll be riding at speed over fences any time soon.
Update: Success at Cheltenham eluded Ruby Walsh. The jockey suffered suspected stress fracture on his recently healed leg when hurt Al Boum Photo fell in at the second to last fence in the RSA Chase on Wednesday.