Six months after a bad fall, Borders jockey Gary Rutherford is back in the saddle, hoping to race again next month.
The 25-year-old conditional from Jedburgh dislocated and fractured his right hip in the fall at Cartmel in July.
Surgeons carried out two operations, putting the hip back and using eight screws to plate the socket, before Gary spent two months on crutches.
Physio, a couple of stints at The Injured Jockey’s Fund’s rehabilitation centre, Oaksey House in Lambourn, and his own hard work saw the 5lb claimer, now based near Selkirk, riding work just before Christmas.
Gary told us: “The doctors are pretty pleased with the way it’s healed. Oaksey House have been brilliant: I spent three weeks there at the end of October, just getting back on my feet and walking. I did another two in December and started riding out the following week.”
Gary rode ponies and did Common Ridings when he was a child before going to jockey school in Newmarket aged 16 and gaining a placement at renowned trainer Nicky Henderson’s yard in Lambourn for a season.
He moved to 2013 Grand National-winning trainers Sue and Harvey Smith in Yorkshire when he was 18 for four years where he had five winners. He’s been back in the Borders for more than three years, riding mostly for Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd and Jedburgh’s Harriet Graham.
His first race was when he was 18 and he’s had 33 winners from about 420 rides since.
“I’ve always liked horses, “ said Gary. “Being a jockey is a lot of hard work, riding out in bad weather – we were riding out this morning (late December) and it’s chucking it down with snow – and, obviously, the injuries are a hard part.
“I’m quite lucky with my weight, I just eat healthily, I ride out most days and do other bits of exercise.”
His first win was for the Smiths on Willie The Fish at Hexham in 2007 and his career highlight so far is his first double, at Hexham, on Kalanisi Kid and Hernando’s Boy one June afternoon in 2011.
He’s broken his left collarbone twice, pulled a ligament in left shoulder and had a few concussions, and, recovering this time, he said boredom was the main challenge. And the highlight? “Riding out again for the first time, it was good.
“I don’t think about the danger or falls – it’s a bit like getting into a car; if you felt you were going to have a crash you probably wouldn’t get into the car. My main ambition is to get back racing – and to ride as many winners as possible.”