The career of one of New Zealand's champion jockeys could be over after a freak trials accident.
Michael Coleman is in Waikato Hospital with three fractures to his femur and damage to his pelvis after being caught under the thoroughbred Cerys when she reared up and fell on him on her way to the start of a trial at Rotorua yesterday.
"The incident occurred leaving the birdcage and the horse reared up and ended up rearing over, landing on Michael's leg," said stipendiary steward Brady Jones.
"It wasn't anything out of the ordinary. It was just unfortunate how it all happened. The horse just lost its balance and Michael ended up half underneath it."
The injury has been found to be significantly worse than first feared. The femur, better known as the thigh bone, is one of the key weight-bearing bones for a jockey.
A triple fracture to the femur could jeopardise any young jockey's career but at 50, Coleman is already in the twilight of his remarkably successful career, and a comeback from the injury would be miraculous.
A Waikato District Hospital spokesperson confirmed Coleman was having surgery tonight. Extensive efforts by the Herald to contact his family have been unsuccessful but fellow trainers and jockeys fear his race riding career is over.
That would be a sad end to the riding days of one of New Zealand's bravest jockeys, one whose career almost never really got started.
He suffered from extreme blood clots as a 23-year-old and was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease, similar in some ways to Crohn's disease.
Coleman has had to manage that his entire career but it hasn't stopped him riding over 2130 winners in New Zealand alone for nearly $40 million in stakes.
A stat Coleman is even prouder of is the fact he had ridden a Group 1 winner every season for 20 years coming into this year's interrupted season - part of an incredible 191 Group and listed winners he has ridden in New Zealand.
He is also one of the more popular and respected jockeys in the country, earning the nickname The King.
Coleman's injury comes as racing's return post-lockdown steps up this weekend, with two thoroughbred meetings on Saturday, at Te Rapa and Awapuni.
The Te Rapa meeting has drawn huge fields with the club now staging 12 races and punters and bookies facing an extreme winter puzzle.
Two of the season's most in-form jockeys in Samantha Collett and Jason Waddell will both make their post-lockdown returns, but in vastly different ways.
Collett, who sits third on the national premiership, has a good book of rides but Waddell will only take one ride for the day as he eases back into race riding.
"I am still considering riding in Australia but with the travel restrictions and how things are going in Victoria I have put that on hold," says Waddell.
"So I will be riding here for the next few months at least."