Bad luck sees championship thrown wide open

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MANY OF our leading Yorkshire point to point jockeys have been stricken with injury this season. Last year’s county champions are both out for the season.

Richard Smith had a bad fall at Sheriff Hutton in January and damaged his shoulder, and Jacqueline Coward has plates in her collarbone after a final fence fall at Mordon. She is hoping to return to action before the season ends although recent x-rays show she must keep it in a sling for longer than expected before she can think of resuming regular race riding.

With Jacqueline out of action it looked likely her cousin Joanna Mason had a realistic chance of winning the Ladies title with some quality pointers to ride trained by her parents Sue and Ian. However, with three winners under her belt she suffered a serious fall aboard ‘Come Dine With Me’ at the Hurworth meeting last weekend and was out cold for four minutes, leaving a red note in her medical book (red indicates being stood down until further notice).

When she came round Jo was taken to hospital as a precaution. They suspected a neck injury but further x-rays showed she had crushed her t7 vertebra. She had been extremely lucky, the vertebra was unstable and pressing on her spinal cord, any sudden jolt could have left her paralysed. Three days later she underwent an operation in Middlesbrough hospital and now has eight pins and two rods along her spine. It is her first serious fall in seven seasons of racing.

“I guess I was due a big fall,”’ Jo explained in that typical bred-for-the-job kind of way I love about jump jockeys. “It’s just one of those things.”

She expects to resume her racing in six weeks’ time. One consolation was learning she’d finished runner up to Simon Walker in the Amateur All Weather Championship which ended on Wednesday. It now looks likely Jo could be the first person to use the facilities at Jack Berry House in Malton when its doors open shortly.

Her loss, along with our two defending champions, has left a gaping gap on the county circuit. In the racing world one person’s downfall is usually another’s opportunity and it will provide a chance for the younger amateur riders to steal the limelight.

The Mason family may be busy taking on their daughter’s workload but mother Susan has her own race to be preparing for. She has come out of retirement (her last race ride was 25 years ago) to participate in the Macmillan Charity Flat Race at York on June 13. As one of 12 riders chosen to take part, she must raise at least £2,500 for the cancer charity before riding in the nine-furlong race.

Sue has been hard at work with her training and fundraising. She is keen to ride in a large saddle and has already lost a stone in weight. Sue boasts a 100 per cent strike rate over hurdles, with one ride, one win, but laughingly says: “I could kick, push or use my whip but never all at the same time. I don’t suppose I’ve improved any over the last 25 years.”

The Middleton point entries secretary has already raised £2,000 towards her target thanks to her intuitive ways of raising funds which included a quiz night in her local pub amassing £850. If you wish to donate to the cancer charity and boost Sue’s fund, you can do so via