NORTH Yorkshire jump jockey Henry Brooke has regained consciousness following a horrific fall which saw the former champion conditional airlifted to hospital and placed in a medically-induced coma to assist his breathing.
Brooke was transferred to Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle, when he fell from the Brian Ellison-trained Old Storm at the second fence of a two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Hexham.
The rider was also kicked by another horse when he hit the ground, with racing delayed for almost two hours while he was treated by on-course medical staff before he could be taken by air ambulance to hospital.
Injured Jockeys’ Fund chief executive Lisa Hancock said in a statement last night: “He’s had a much more comfortable day and has regained consciousness which is fantastic news. The doctors are pleased with his progress.”
Brooke’s mother Julia, who trains near Middleham, said on Saturday that her son had suffered a broken collarbone and that he had sustained a suspected collapsed lung.
The 25-year-old had already ridden 26 winners this season at a career-best strike-rate of 18 per cent. He was on track to beat last season’s tally of 42 victories.
After serving his apprenticeship with Grand National-winning training Donald McCain, the Tadcaster-born rider returned to Yorkshire where he has become established as one of the North’s most successful jump jockeys.
He started picking up rides off Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, whose Don Cossack won this year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup under Bryan Cooper, who suffered a broken arm at Fairyhouse on Saturday.
Brooke’s plight cast a long and depressing shadow over the weekend’s turf action headlined by Churchill’s victory in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
In the spirit of the great war-time leader from which his name derives, Churchill – ridden to victory by Ryan Moore – remains a hot favourite for the 2017 Classics after providing trainer Aidan O’Brien with a 20th Group One victory of the year.
While the Ballydoyle master has described a number of his top performers as “special” on a regular basis over the years, his use of the word regarding the son Galileo is seemingly not far wide of the mark, with stablemate Lancaster Bomber finishing second.
At the end of a week in which O’Brien saddled the first three runners home in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, European racing’s blue riband contest, the peerless trainer was registering his second one-two in a Group One within the space of 24 hours after Rhododendron had defeated Hydrangea in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.
The curtain came down on York’s 2016 campaign with the David O’Meara-trained Intisaab winning the Coral Sprint Trophy for apprentice Shelly Birkett.
Birkett, 22, and the daughter of Newmarket trainer Julia Feilden, said: “I first got the ride on him by chance as it was a busy Saturday. He ran really well and finished second. I’ve kept the ride ever since.”
Owner Stuart Graham, from East Yorkshire, said: “I got the horse a couple of years ago at the sales. He did okay but then he got injured. David put him in a field for three or four months and was brilliant with him. Shelley is probably the reason why the horse, apart from David, has shot up in the ratings. It’s like a match made in heaven.”
Total attendance at York this year was 347,098, a decline of 13,739 from last year’s near record crowds. Bad weather at the big Saturday meetings was blamed.
O’Meara was out of luck in North America where stable star Mondialiste could only finish fourth in the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes at Keeneland.
Ballyoptic is set to head for Wetherby’s West Yorkshire Hurdle on October 29 after victory in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow on Saturday for ecstatic trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and jockey Ryan Hatch.