Veteran jockey to keep racing - body willing

By Mike Dillon

Jockey Trudy Thornton has vowed to stay in the saddle. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Jockey Trudy Thornton has vowed to stay in the saddle. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Veteran jockey Trudy Thornton, laid up in Auckland City Hospital with a smashed hip from a race fall, is not about to quit the sport.

"To hell with it," the 50-year-old said yesterday. "You might get to see someone killed walking across the road this afternoon."

The Waikato jockey says she will continue riding "unless I win Lotto" and rarely gives a thought to the dangers of her occupation.

Thornton, who has 930 career victories, broke her hip last Saturday. Surgeons have grafted bone on to the damage.

She says all jockeys occasionally think about danger. "But it's something you quickly put behind you. If you go out on to the racetrack with that in your thoughts, you shouldn't be there."

At Ellerslie in 2008, she was pinned under a horse named The Cosmob after it had a heart attack 400m into the 1600m race, died and collapsed on top of her.

She was lucky. One of the starting stalls crew spotted the incident out of the corner of his eye and the entire crew set out in the pick-up. When they got to the spot in the Ellerslie back straight they couldn't see Thornton under the horse, but knew she had to be there.

Fortunately there were enough of them to manhandle 550kg of dead-weight off the jockey.

"When they got me out I wasn't breathing and they couldn't find a pulse, but the ambulance staff managed to get me around," she says.

One of the first woman jockeys to ride in one of the world's toughest races, Ellerslie's Great Northern Steeplechase, she continued so far into one of her pregnancies that she was partially responsible for NZ Thoroughbred Racing changing its rules to stop the practice.

Thornton says she will race "as long as my body allows me".

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n2 at 29 Jul 2014 17:45:48 Processing Time: 593ms