Injured Vorster to resume riding soon
After being sidelined through injury longer than originally thought, jockey Barend Vorster finally made his reappearance at Kranji on Thursday morning.
The South African (above, in red), who hurt his left ankle in a barrier incident during the Emirates Singapore Derby on July 13 when his mount Johnny Guitar played up and squeezed him against the gates, cantered two horses for Patrick Shaw.
They might have been only two easy-going gingerly rides, but to Vorster, they were the final stages of a long road to recovery and the first big steps towards his targeted riding comeback in a couple of weeks' time.
Vorster said the most disconcerting part about the protracted layoff was that he at first thought it was just an innocuous knock that would make him miss at most three or four meetings.
It turned out to be 22 meetings - and counting - that the 2004 Singapore champion jockey has missed now, all because of three hairline fractures and ligament damage in his left ankle.
"At first, I thought it was just a simple knock and I'd be right. I tried to ride after that, but I was in pain," he said.
"It's only after I had it scanned that they found I had three hairline fractures and some ligament damage. My doctor told me I needed at least eight weeks of rest."
Vorster, whose tally has frozen at 19 wins since June 29 (courtesy of Alan) but who has somehow managed to drop only one place on the log down to the 10th spot, said the hardest part was not just the physical pain, but also the loss of opportunities.
"It's very frustrating, but what can you do? I just have to hang in there," said Vorster, who rides mainly for the powerful Shaw yard who has been producing smart winners like Magneto, Quechua and Alexandra Palace of late.
"I didn't go back to South Africa. I hung around here as I have my son who is schooling here."
Getting back on a horse on Thursday might have been about blowing away the cobwebs, but a reinvigorated Vorster is already chomping at the bit.
"I came back this morning and took a couple for a canter. I felt all right," he said.
"Obviously, I will slowly build up on the rides to give my leg a chance to get stronger. I will then go for faster work when I feel I'm fit and stronger.
"I'm also doing plenty of physio and extra training and it's holding good.
"Hopefully, I will need only about two weeks of trackwork and can then make my comeback in the middle of October."