Jockey Corey Brown has no plans to retire despite revealing how close he came to not being able to walk again following his fall from Lord Arthur in the Queensland Derby.
Brown underwent surgery in Brisbane on Sunday to repair an unstable fracture to his T7 vertebra and is also nursing a cracked sternum and punctured lung.
He said a piece of spine had been chipped off and was floating around his back with doctors saying it was a one-in-a-million chance it had not hit the spinal cord.
Brown said X-rays of his back looked like a jigsaw puzzle.
“I’ve got eight screws running through my spine with a plate,” Brown told RSN927.
“The screws don’t go through the vertebra that’s been chipped. The screws hold the other vertebra together with a plate over the top to hold that in place.”
Brown, who remained conscious throughout Saturday’s incident, initially thought he may escape unscathed.
He said the “second bounce” was when the damage was done.
“I don’t know whether I was kicked in the back or what, but straight away I knew there was a major drama,” he said.
“I couldn’t breathe but I had to get out of the way of the horse as it was trying to get up thrashing about because it had broken its back leg.
“Once I lay back down and got my composure I knew there was something broken. I didn’t know how bad it was but I knew there was something wrong.”
Brown has no time-frame on how long he will be sidelined and while he is one of the elder statesmen among Australian jockeys, retirement is a long way off.
The winner of two Melbourne Cups on Shocking in 2009 and Rekindling in 2017, Brown spent several years riding in Hong Kong and Singapore before returning to Sydney at the end of 2016.
“I’ve loved my racing more in the last five or six years, especially the last three since I’ve been back in Australia, than what I did as a young kid,” Brown said.
“This is a bit of a wake-up call. (It’s) the job we do and the older you get, you don’t bounce as well, but I’ve (still) got plenty of time left in me.”
Brown is expected to return to Sydney on Thursday.