One of my winning jockeys suffered a nasty fall last weekend. Henry Brooke fell in a chase at Hexham last Saturday. Whilst on the ground he was unlucky to be stood on by another runner leaving him injured.
Racing was delayed as the ambulance on course treated him. The atmosphere at the track was tentative before any news on his health seeped through. It turned out later he had crushed nine ribs, had a collapsed lung and a broken collarbone.
The only saving grace…. his head and back were in one piece. With fluid on his lung his breathing was difficult and he was placed in an induced coma before the air ambulance flew him to Newcastle hospital allowing racing to resume two hours late.
Henry was in the induced coma until the following day when he his breathing was fully stabilised. Thankfully he is now on the mend and expects to return home to recuperate at Middleham later this week unless physicians decide to operate on his ribs, two of which are ‘loose’.
I have no doubt once he gets home he won’t be planning on lying in bed for long. The pull of helping his granddad John on the farm or mother Julia on the yard will be too much for our 25-year-old jockey, broken ribs or not.
Henry began his racing career on the Yorkshire point to point circuit as a confident and cocky 17-year-old. His first ride was for Anthony and Maxine Stirk from Ripon whom he rode for with some success. The cocky streak soon evaporated after a season riding against the professionals but that confidence has never left him.
It is one of the redeeming qualities which helped him secure the title of Champion Conditional jockey in 2012 when based with Donald McCain. That gift wasn’t quite enough, however, to see him crowned the Champion Go-Cart Racer at the Jo Foster Racing staff Christmas party in 2015, where he trailed in a disappointing fifth place behind a highly competitive gang of my work riders and stable hands.
Henry was slightly taken aback by the determination of our female competitors whose boisterous and underhand tactics would have had racecourse stewards covering their eyes in horror.
You can’t help but like Henry. His cheeky grin is matched by a mischievous sense of humour. His mum must have had a tricky time telling him off when he was a naughty 10-year-old – a big smile and he’d win most people over.
He is always popular with the owners due to his positivity on a horse, be it the favourite or a 33-1 outsider. He has ridden a number of winners for me.
It was Henry’s last winner for us which turned out the most memorable. He was aboard Pinerolo at Southwell in August in a two mile five-furlong chase on a day the rain had poured torrentially just before racing began.
From the flag fall Henry was left hopelessly out of the back, going nowhere fast for two miles. Caked in mud and blowing hard he continued to pursue his rivals, pushing away like a rower crossing the channel. He wore his rivals down to eventually win by eight lengths. It was the most unbelievable race I have ever witnessed. I do hope he mends quickly and that cheeky smirk will be spotted back on the racecourse soon.