HENRY Brooke was back with a bang at Carlisle on Tuesday when riding a winner just weeks after breaking his neck in a fall.
The top jock, 30, suffered horror injuries while schooling a horse at trainer Oliver Greenall's yard in late November.
He only discovered that he had broken his neck and two vertebrae in his back after driving himself to hospital – and finding out he was 'inches from being in a wheelchair'.
It's not the first time Brooke, whose biggest career wins include the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and Becher Chase, has suffered a serious injury as a result of fall.
In October 2016, he punctured a lung and was placed in an induced coma after a fall at Hexham.
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He made his long-awaited return to the saddle at Carlisle on Tuesday, taking a book of three rides.
He was out of luck at the first attempt, but on just his second ride back he guided Mark Walford's 15-2 shot Miss Amelia to success in the 2m handicap chase.
Brooke said: "It's felt like an age, to be honest.
"I did three vertebrae in my neck and two in my back. They were all compression fractures, which isn't too bad.
"Although one in my neck was a bit touch and go. Luckily, it all worked out well.
"I had a solid brace on for seven weeks and then a soft collar on for another three weeks after that.
"I've been in great hands with Dr Jerry Hill of the BHA and all of my recovery is down to the people at Jack Berry House – I can't praise everyone that helped me enough."
He continued: "Today was the main aim – to come back. To come out of it with a winner, I'm absolutely on cloud nine.
"I took a blow on my first ride, but when you're in with a chance of winning you find the strength – and to be fair to the mare, she's very gutsy and helped me all the way to the line.
"No jockey likes being off – it's an absolute nightmare watching horses win that you would have rode, but I'm looking to the future now and hopefully I can get myself a couple of nice winners before the end of the season."
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