Jockey Richard Bensley — Grateful To Be Back At Work
Popular jockey Richard Bensley doesn’t remember much about the February race fall that left him immobilised in Canberra hospital and threatened to end his riding career.
Bensley was enjoying his best ever season and the Canberra Sunday meeting — the lead-up to Black Opal Day — was another that held promise.
But after placing second in the fourth event, Bensley’s race-day ended when his mount fractured a near foreleg in the Maiden Plate and collapsed to the turf bringing three horses down around him.
“I don’t remember much,” Bensley says.
“Mostly what I remember is with the ground coming at me and thinking ‘this is going to hurt’. I have never watched a replay.”
Bensley was rushed to Canberra hospital with 10 fractured ribs and a fractured pelvis.
“I spent the next six weeks in a hospital bed. I wasn’t allowed to move really, or get out of bed —avoiding any weight-bearing on my pelvis.
“Yeah it’s frustrating. I even had to get the nurses to roll me over and that sort of thing. You just have to lie there and cop it.
“But I remained determined to ride again — as long as the body was up to it.”
Bensley says the support he received “was fantastic”.
“Not only my family, but my racing colleagues: trainers and jockeys and owners, visited regularly.
“Without that support you would not get through these things.
“A lot of people came in — Nick (Olive) and Gratz (Vella) and Luke (Pepper) and lots of others. It was great, you know.
“I had a TV and an iPad and laptop — watched a lot of movies and TV.
“I watched a few races here and there; but shut racing out for a little while.”
Like the tens of hundreds of injured jockeys before him, Bensley is accepting of his circumstance.
“It’s just an occupational hazard in this game.
“These things happen unfortunately— it was nobody’s fault; just an unlucky accident.
It wasn’t rider error or anything and the good thing was the three other jocks were able to get up and walk away.
“You cop it on the chin and get up and get going again …”
Eight days ago Bensley mounted a racehorse for the first time since the 21 February fall.
“I spent the week just trot and cantering horses and will do that again this week. Next week I will see how I feel and may do pace work on one or two.
“It’s just basically fitness now. I have to get that up and my strength as well — my body will tell me when I am ready to return to race riding.”
“It really lifts your spirits returning to work; seeing all the people at the track; the trainers you are riding work for.
“Just being back riding horses is great.”