Jockey Pat Smullen has set himself the goal to be able get back riding after he completes his recovery from cancer.
The number one rider for Dermot Weld and nine time champion jockey in Ireland has been missing from the track since March 2018 following being diagnosed with a tumour.
Smullen is well and truly on the way to recovery but still faces some time out of the sport. Even though the superb professional will have missed two flat racing seasons he has said that he will not rush his return to the sport he loves and wants to be able to get back to the level he was at before he left before returning.
Smullen said in a new weekly column for online newspaper Thoroughbred Daily News: I’ve been in contact with Dermot, and we’ve been speaking about the upcoming week and the entries he’ll have for (day one of the new Flat turf season at Naas on) Sunday.
“He keeps me involved, which is great – and I’m still excited, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just in a different way.
“I had a very difficult time through the surgery, though thankfully it was successful and the surgeon was very pleased with how it went. There was a complication afterwards which meant they had to operate again – so I had two major surgeries in the space of six weeks – and the recovery from that was quite tough.
“I had a course of chemotherapy followed by the two surgeries and now I’m having post-op treatment. That will be complete in early May, and hopefully it will have done its job and we can introduce a bit of normality back into our lives.
“Nobody is putting any pressure on me, but of course people are asking if I’ll ride again. I’ve no idea at the moment. The hope is to ride again. I’d love to do that – but I’m a realist in that if I don’t recover in time throughout this year it will be two years missed and then it’s a question of whether or not I could get back to the level where I want to compete. We just have to wait and see how things go, and my priority is to get healthy and well again.”
The 41 year old jockey was fortunate enough to have insurance in place incase he did suffer something like this in his career but is aware that many other riders who experience a long time out of the sport are not as lucky and his aim is to set something up in aid of this situation.
The Derby winner added: “I was in a very fortunate position that I had health cover and insurance, and I’m very lucky that I’m married to a woman that had everything in place in case anything went wrong. Unfortunately something did happen, but fortunately we were well insured on a personal basis. Not all riders are in a position to be able to do that, and many in this situation would be in a difficult position financially.
“I’ve said before that the amount of goodwill that’s been shown towards me has been nothing short of overwhelming, and in the next year or so I’ll be working towards putting something in place for riders who fall ill and to help them get back on their feet.”