January return hope for jockey Danny Cook

Gazette & Herald: The spectacularly marked Top Notch Tonto, trained by Brian Ellison, gained the Coral Special Achievement award The spectacularly marked Top Notch Tonto, trained by Brian Ellison, gained the Coral Special Achievement award

Danny Cook, sidelined with a broken leg following a freak accident at Newcastle last month, visits his specialist next week in the hope he can make a January date to be back in the saddle.

The Ryedale jockey was not injured in a racing fall, but when he was kicked at the start by another runner as he was mounted on his circling horse. He went on to complete the race and only discovered afterwards his leg had been broken.

“I have to go back and have X-rays on December 18 to see how the healing is going. Up until now I have been told to rest it as much as possible,” said Cook.

“I am obviously hoping the news is positive and my target remains to be back riding sometime in January.”

The latest accident could hardly have come at a worse time for Cook, who had made a bright start to the season, riding for his number-one supporter Brian Ellison, as well as Tim Easterby and Tyneside-based Michael Smith.

“Things were going really well when it happened, but that’s often the way it is,” said Cook.

Meanwhile, Ellison has plenty to celebrate. Not only did his stable star Top Notch Tonto earn himself the Coral Special Achievement Award at last week’s Racehorse Owners’ Association’s 32nd annual awards, the Norton trainer scaled new heights when notching 100 winners – Flat and jumps – in a year for the first time.

Having been in the ‘nervous nineties’ for the last few weeks, Ellison achieved his milestone century with Pravda Street, ridden by Ben Curtis to land a claimer at Wolverhampton last Friday evening.

While Ellison missed Pravda Street’s notable success because of being on holiday in Barbados, the likelihood is that this will not be the first time he accumulates winners into three figures in a calendar year.

Come 2014 and an expansion of the Ellison yard is planned, meaning more horses, more ammunition to fire – and almost certainly more winners.

 

• Tony Coyle is another trainer expanding his business. The Ryedale handler has installed a new barn at his Norton yard which will enable him to increase numbers in 2014.

“There are a lot of horses to come back into training in the New Year and by then we’ll have room for 50,” said Coyle, who has had an excellent year.

Apart from 13 winners on the Flat, which included a York success with City Zen, Coyle has had 10 successes in the current jumps campaign, the latest of which was posted by Billy Cuckoo at Southwell last week.

The giant-sized gelding was given a tremendous ride by Dougie Costello to gain a 12-1 success in the handicap chase to notch his fourth victory for Coyle in two seasons.

“He has his own way of doing things, but he’s a fun horse and he owes us absolutely nothing,” said Coyle.

Billy Cuckoo’s three previous wins for Coyle had been secured in the hands of Brian Toomey, the North Yorkshire jockey who has since suffered a major head injury in a fall at Perth during the summer.

Having stared death firmly in the face, Toomey has made remarkable progress and has recently successfully undergone an operation to fit a metal plate on his skull to replace the bone that was removed during his darkest hours to relieve pressure on his brain.

Toomey is now going racing again and, although his riding career is over, is looking to the future. “Whatever I do, it will be around horses,” he says. “It’s all I know.”

Meanwhile, Coyle is considering sending his progressive gelding Flicka Williams, winner of all his three races this season, to Cheltenham on Saturday for a steep rise in class in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Hurdle.

 

• Tim Walford may have been in danger of pulling out his hair in frustration at the lack of consistency with some of his horses, but the Sheriff Hutton trainer was a lot happier after Shimla Dawn posted a wide-margin win.

Partnered by Peter Buchanan, the five-year-old won the handicap hurdle at Market Rasen last Thursday by ten lengths. “He is an exciting three-mile novice chaser in the making,” said Mark Walford, assistant and son of the trainer.

Tim FitzGerald, who was also on the mark at the Lincolnshire course with Acrai Rua – a 9-1 success by seven lengths – said: “We may come back here on Boxing Day for the Lincolnshire National.”

 

• There is nothing quite like jump racing to remind you of uncertainty, as Dean Pratt discovered last week when experiencing both sides of the coin.

The talented Ryedale conditional was left in a heap on the ground at Catterick when his mount, the odds-on Forced Family Fun collided in mid-air with another runner at the very first flight, unseating his rider.

Pratt had a happier outcome at Wetherby on Saturday. He scored a half-length success on Zaplamation, likewise trained by his boss John Quinn, in the handicap hurdle.

Owned by ex-North Yorkshire trainer David Barker, Zaplamation was following up a course success last month on behalf of Pratt, who has a startling season strike-rate of two winners from five mounts.

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