Apprentice Deanne Panya has had no hesitation about getting back on the horse, despite her return to racing coinciding with a sequence of tragic events for fellow jockeys.
The 24-year-old returned from a 10-week injury-enforced lay-off in style at Goulburn on Monday, guiding the Marc Conners-trained Maddison Avenue to the line in her first competitive ride since she was injured in a fall.
On Wednesday at Warwick Farm she rides Atunnah Courage and Express Point for trainers Libby Haworth and Gary Portelli respectively.
Panya needed surgery on a broken collarbone and lacerated jaw after she lost her balance aboard the Portelli-trained Sebring Express in the Widden Stakes at Rosehill on January 28.
She passed the necessary concussion tests on Monday last week, started trackwork a day later and was set to resume racing at Warwick Farm on the Wednesday but her one mount was scratched.
Instead she made a nerveless comeback at Goulburn, just two days after country NSW jockey Darren Jones was killed and Melanie Bolwell and Leanne Henry were hospitalised after a three-horse fall at Warialda.
Track riders Ben Saunders and Wade Clasohm suffered serious spinal injuries in an incident at Toowoomba on Saturday morning while South Australian jockey Dominic Tourneur has broken ribs after a fall on Tuesday.
While Panya obviously sympathised with her colleagues, she had no qualms about restarting her career.
“It could happen to any one of us. It is quite scary, I guess. I don’t stew on it too much,” Panya said.
Panya said it felt normal to be back riding at Goulburn.
“It was pretty normal. It was as if I was just continuing where I left off,” she said,
“I’m a pretty laid-back sort of a person. I was pretty neutral.
“It’s a good confidence builder.
“I wasn’t nervous. It probably helps I don’t really remember much of it (the fall) anyway.”
Panya focused on her passion for drawing during her recovery, but never sketched out plans for an alternative career.
“I thought I did pretty good to go four or five years without even falling” she said.
“It’s just a chance thing, just one of those accidents.”