Star jockey Blake Shinn injures neck in horror fall
CHAMPION jockey Blake Shinn suffered a serious neck injury in a Randwick barrier trial fall on Monday and would seem unlikely to ride again this year.
Shinn was riding Pacific Legend in a 1045m heat when the horse seemed to become unbalanced near the home turn and the jockey slipped from the saddle.
Ambulance officers quickly attended to Shinn, who was found to have mild concussion and was complaining of neck soreness.
Shinn, the regular jockey for three-time Group 1 winner Happy Clapper, was taken to nearby Prince of Wales Hospital, where X-rays revealed he had fractures in his C1 and C3 vertebra.
Shinn's close friend, trainer Peter Robl, said fortunately the jockey has full movement in his arms and legs and no nerve damage.
"It could have been a lot worse,'' Robl said.
"Blake's in good spirits considering what has happened.
"There is never a good time to get injured particularly with the spring carnival about to start, but at least Blake will be able to walk out of hospital in a few days.''
Shinn was undergoing further tests on Monday afternoon but it was estimated he would not be able to ride for between three to six months.
He is coming off arguably a career-best season, riding 80 Sydney winners to be second in the jockeys' premiership and winning five Group 1 races - three on the outstanding Happy Clapper, including the Epsom-Doncaster Handicap double.
Before Shinn's fall, he rode Happy Clapper to finish a close fourth in a 1250m barrier trial on Monday.
Happy Clapper's trainer, Pat Webster, said the satisfaction he was feeling after his stable star's super trial effort was tempered by the seriousness of Shinn's injury.
"You have to feel for Blake. It is terribly bad luck, but at the same time, he was very lucky,'' Webster said.
"He's lucky he wasn't left a paraplegic or quadriplegic, he's lucky he wasn't killed.''
Webster will have to find a new jockey for Happy Clapper this spring, with the gelding set to resume in the Group 1 Memsie Stakes at Caulfield on September 1.
The trainer said no final decision had been made but indicated talented Melbourne jockey Ben Melham was being considered as a possible replacement rider.