Young apprentice jockey Hannah Fitzgerald is making encouraging progress in her road to recovery following a horror race fall at Kalgoorlie on October 30.
The 18-year-old was aboard the Jeff Eeles-trained Neurologic in the second-last race of the day when, shortly after crossing the line in fourth place, the gelding clipping heels and dislodged Fitzgerald, breaking her collarbone and knocking her unconscious in the process.
The final race of the meeting was abandoned due to grave concerns about Fitzgerald’s welfare and she would remain in an induced coma for several days, however, the past two months has seen her make significant inroads.
“I don’t remember the first two weeks after the accident,” Fitzgerald told TABradio’s The Sports Daily.
“I only remember trackwork from that morning.
“I don’t even remember flying to Kalgoorlie or anything, so unfortunately I don’t remember most of the day.
“Then mainly it was just waiting to get out of the hospital as I was getting bored just sitting around.
“I didn’t get out of hospital until roughly the 24th of November, so I was there a little while.”
One of the state’s most promising young hoops with 31 wins from 343 race rides and been named RWWA’s Trainee of the Year in 2020, Fitzgerald’s promising start to her career appeared all but over in the weeks after the fall.
However, she says her body is bouncing back better than expected.
“I have a broken collarbone but that feels fine now because it’s been a little while, but my body feels really good,” Fitzgerald said.
“I’ve had a lot support behind me which has made me feel even better and I’ve not really felt any challenges necessarily.
“I’m waiting on my neurologist appointment on my brain, but I’ve not actually felt any major challenges.
“The rehabilitation has mainly just been doctors points non-stop, I obviously have orthopedic appointments on my shoulder and neurologist appointments on my brain.”
Reflecting back on the outpouring of well-wishes she received from within the industry during the fight of her life, Fitzgerald has been incredibly humbled by the support.
“I got quite a lot of messages on the 30th and 31st of October and obviously I couldn’t reply to them because I wasn’t awake,” she said.
“But I’ve read all of that and I’ve gone through all of the news reports recently, as well.
“I’ve had a lot of support throughout so it actually has made me feel a lot better.”
Whilst she’s still got a long road ahead of her, Fitzgerald’s spirits received a boost after a recent visit to the stables of her apprenticeship master, Brett Pope, as well as to Lark Hill trials to watch her parents’ horse in action.
Incredibly, the courageous apprentice is already eyeing a return to the saddle in 2022.
“I definitely enjoyed it and it just made me want to be back even more,” Fitzgerald said.
“I definitely want to continue riding, I can’t wait to get back at it.
“My next neurologist appointment is on the 18th of February, so it’s still a while off but I’m hoping that will be appointment that clears me to get riding again.
“I’m just waiting on the appointment to hopefully get back to work and then I’ll slowly be able to start riding again and just work on getting myself back.”