GETTING BACK IN THE SADDLE: Elyce Smith is well on the road to recovery and was among the thousands of people who flocked to the St Peter's Caulfield Cup Race Day at Callaghan Park last weekend.
GETTING BACK IN THE SADDLE: Elyce Smith is well on the road to recovery and was among the thousands of people who flocked to the St Peter's Caulfield Cup Race Day at Callaghan Park last weekend. Allan Reinikka ROK201018araces2

Apprentice jockey relives horrific Thangool accident

HORSE RACING: Rockhampton's Elyce Smith has little recollection of the incident at the Thangool Cup that put her in intensive care for nine days.

The apprentice jockey suffered a host of injuries, including a fractured skull, punctured lung and broken ribs, when her horse bolted from behind the starting stalls at the race meeting on September 8.

The 21-year-old has amazed doctors with her recovery, and she is determined to be back doing track work by January and racing again in February.

Smith is sporting a sling on her left arm after pins and a plate were inserted in her badly broken collarbone but says the pain is starting to subside.

"I'm feeling pretty good, actually,” she said.

"I'm on minimum painkillers at the moment. Since it's been pinned and plated it feels way more stable so the pain has settled down.

Elyce Smith guides another winner home.
Elyce Smith guides another winner home. Tony Martin

"I'm at physio once a week and I'll be back to the surgeon soon to find out more about what I can do from here and to get a bit more of a time frame.”

Following the incident, Smith was stabilised by ambulance personnel before being taken to Biloela Hospital. She was then flown to Rockhampton Hospital, where her anxious parents Fred and Karen were waiting.

"I don't really remember much about the accident,” she said.

"I remember getting on the horse and the horse taking off and the next thing I remember is waking up in hospital.

"My brother Thomas was there when I woke up and I think the first thing I said to him was 'Have you called Mum and Jesse (my partner)?'.

"A little bit later, because Dad had horses racing at Thangool, I asked Thomas how they had gone.

"I don't remember a lot of what happened at Rocky Hospital until the next day because I was just in and out.”

Smith spent nine days in intensive care and a night in a general ward before being released from hospital.

In a cruel twist, dad Fred fractured his pelvis in a horse-related incident the day after she came home.

Smith has been touched by the incredible support from the racing community.

Champion apprentice Elyce Smith celebrates another victory, this time at Bundaberg.
Champion apprentice Elyce Smith celebrates another victory, this time at Bundaberg. Paul Donaldson

She will receive the proceeds of a memorabilia auction held at a recent long lunch and calcutta run by the Livinadream racing syndicate.

Smith said the money would be a huge help in paying for ongoing medical expenses and to replace racing gear damaged in the Thangool incident.

"That was so nice, and it was a little bit overwhelming. The support has been amazing,” she said.

Smith said the next few months would be focused on recovery and rebuilding her strength to enable her to ride again.

While she is desperate to return to the track, the Rockhampton Jockey Club's leading apprentice jockey for 2017/18 is on track to realising another goal. She wants to out-ride her provincial claim before she finishes in the sport and becomes a school teacher.

"I've just finished my second year in an under graduate bachelor degree of primary school education,” she said.

"I graduate in two years so I'm hoping to then transfer from being a jockey into a teaching role.

"I always wanted to have a university degree, I didn't want to be a jockey for my whole life.”

Smith said she was drawn to teaching because she liked being around children and helping people learn and develop new skills.

Elyce Smith says that winning her first provincial ride in Rockhampton on her dad's horse,  King Max, has been the highlight of her racing career so far.
Elyce Smith says that winning her first provincial ride in Rockhampton on her dad's horse, King Max, has been the highlight of her racing career so far. MATT HARRIS

She said riding horses was a natural fit for her, given her parents both came from horse backgrounds and Dad was an accomplished trainer.

"I started track work at 15 with Dad in the school holidays and I went on from there. When I finished school I started riding full-time,” she said.

"I just loved riding horses and I guess I'd been around racing all my life.

"I wanted to give it a go. I didn't want to get older and regret not having a go at it.

"I've been racing for 18 months, and the highlight would be winning my first provincial ride in Rocky on one of Dad's horses, King Max.”



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