Take a jockey away from riding and it’s never easy for them, more so when you’re an apprentice, new to the game and just starting to hit your straps.
Luke Campbell has not ridden in a race since March, but the natural lightweight jockey is ramping up for a return after competing at Lark Hill trials on Monday.
It’s a positive step forward for Campbell after what was thought to be a minor knee injury extended to a frustrating two months on the sidelines.
Campbell came off Wunderkind at trackwork, ironically enough the same horse that gave the 19-year-old his first city win at Ascot on March 9.
It capped a bittersweet two days for Campbell after he booted home his maiden win at York, before making it a memorable day with a double.
Campbell, who had dreamt of becoming a jockey since he was five-years of age, said his knee injury caused a fair amount of pain.
“At the time they told me it was just a bruise, but I was in excruciating pain for about a week after,” Campbell told The Races WA.
“I got an MRI done and it showed I broke the edge of my kneecap, did some ligament damage and tore a bit of muscle up my leg.
“I got a bit of concussion after the hoof scraped my head and knocked me out.
“I was also on crutches for about three to four weeks after as well.”
Despite Campbell’s list of injuries, it did not quell his enthusiasm for riding, if anything it reaffirmed his love of the sport while being away.
Campbell, indentured to Hall Of Famer, Neville Parnham, gave up an air-conditioning and refrigeration engineering apprenticeship to pursue his ambition of becoming a jockey.
He said an enforced layoff was untimely, but has only made him hungrier for more success.
“I got injured on a Thursday and had a full book of rides at Mount Barker on Friday and four at Kalgoorlie on the Saturday,” Campbell said.
“I reckon three or four winners came out of those, so I was gutted to see that, but it is what it is.
“In racing you have more lows than you have highs, but for me to ride those three winners in a week like I did, going good for a bit, that’s why you do it.”
Campbell said he’s been working with jockey coach John Claite to build his fitness in preparation for his return.
“I will do another set of trials on Monday at Belmont and then I’ll take rides for the following Saturday,” Campbell said.
“Physically my knee feels real good and it’s just a matter of getting my fitness back.
“But I’ve missed it and it’s good to be back galloping them on the grass.”