Ana O’Brien may be out until the new year

Ana O’Brien admits it could be the new year before she returns to the saddle.

The rider suffered multiple injuries in a fall at Killarney in July, fracturing the C1 vertebra in her neck and T6 in her back as well as damaging her eye socket, jaw and teeth.

While O’Brien says she is making good progress, she has yet to pencil in a return date.

She told a Horse Racing Ireland blog: “I’ve quizzed the doctors about getting back on a horse. They are not as keen as I am for the moment! Hopefully, the neck brace will be coming off next week.

“I’m doing my best to do as the doctors tell me so that everything mends properly, but as soon as I get the all-clear, I can’t wait to get back riding out.

“However, it might be the new year before I get back in the saddle.

“I’m definitely getting stronger by the day. I can feel it in everything I do. I’m starting to do all the normal things again, things I couldn’t do for weeks.

“But you don’t want to be testing yourself too much at the same time. I’m still under doctors’ orders and I’m not taking any chances. But I feel far more comfortable these days.”

O’Brien had been a leading contender for the apprentice title in Ireland, heading the championship race until Oisin Orr equalled her tally of 18 winners at Dundalk on Tuesday.

Gary Halpin, Killian Leonard and Sean Davis are all hot on Orr’s heels though, and O’Brien is expecting a thrilling battle for the crown.

She added: “It looks like it could go down to the wire for the apprentice title between all the lads.

“It will make for good competition between them and of course I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to give it a go this year, but I was very fortunate to have been in front for part of the season.”

  • Champion Bumper heroine Fayonagh is set to make her seasonal reappearance and hurdling debut at Fairyhouse on Saturday.

The daughter of Kalanisi was snapped up for £64,000 by owner Maura Gittins after winning a Naas bumper for trainer Richie Rath last November and has proved an extremely shrewd purchase.

She made a hugely impressive debut for her new connections in a Listed event at Fairyhouse before coming from the clouds to claim Cheltenham Festival glory, and was even more impressive when following up at Punchestown in late April.

Mark Gittins, son of the owner, said: “Fayonagh is very well and I believe the plan is to start her off on Saturday. Obviously it’s very exciting.

“Last season was an absolute dream and if she can be half as good over hurdles as she was in bumpers, that’ll be great.”

Gittins himself is a successful breeder based at Castlefarm Stud in County Kildare, producing dual Group One-winning two-year-old Shalaa, among others.

He is married to Aisling Kinane, the daughter of former leading jockey Mick Kinane.


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