Larry Cassidy ready to resume riding career after shaking off injuries

 

MEMORIES of champion Winx have spurred Queensland jockey Larry Cassidy to launch a surprise comeback.

The Group 1-winning jockey has been sidelined with injury for more than a year, forced to sit down shortly after riding Winx to win last year’s Sunshine Coast Guineas.

The Guineas is on Saturday, bringing back memories of how Cassidy rode Winx in the race which kicked off her nine-race winning sequence.

After winning the Guineas, Chris Waller’s wonder mare went on to become the glittering star of Australian racing with five Group 1 wins, including the Cox Plate.

But Cassidy was forced to give up his riding career after undergoing several knee operations and also suffering painful stress fractures in his leg.Having ridden 42 Group 1 winners and notching more than 2500 career wins, Cassidy was forced to confront the bleak reality he would not ride again. He spoke about wanting to become a steward and a mentor for young jockeys.

But with the pain reducing and the passion to ride burning brightly, 45-year-old Cassidy returned to the saddle last week, riding trackwork for former jockey rival turned trainer Chris Munce.

“I’m determined to come back better than ever before and I am very confident I will be back race riding by the end of August,” Cassidy said. “Earlier this year it was a real kick in the guts when I thought I would never be able to ride again.

“But my knees have now repaired pretty well. I’m not saying I’m 100 per cent fit at the moment, but I’m pretty close. I can’t wait to get back. I could probably be back even earlier but I’ve got to be on the safe side.’’

 

Larry Cassidy knew Winx was something special after she rocketed home to win the Sunshine Coast Guineas last year. Picture: Tara Croser.

 

Cassidy will keep a keen eye on Saturday’s Guineas, remembering the explosiveness of Winx last year. Having ridden greats such as dual Cox Plate winner Sunline, Cassidy knew Winx was a star when she stormed home from the rear to win.

“I remember telling Hugh Bowman (Winx’s regular jockey) before the Queensland Oaks that I thought Winx was a potential champion,” Cassidy said.

“At one stage that day on the Sunshine Coast she was probably 15 lengths off them and they were peeling out wide in front of me. But when I gave her a squeeze she only took about four strides to show her incredible acceleration.

“I went home that night and told my wife that I had never before ridden a horse who had won like that. At the time I thought she could be one of the best horses I have ever ridden, she was just so dominant.

“I knew she was special, it was just going to be a matter of how special she was. It was so great to be a part of her early success and I have watched every one of her wins since that day.’’

Story courtesy Ben Dorries Brisbane Courier Mail.

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