Sammy Jo Bell is looking to complete a remarkable comeback by racing to victory at Carlisle’s eagerly-awaited #AmazingMonday meeting.
The leading female jockey suffered a broken pelvis and was unable to ride for 10 months after her mount Royal Duchess reared and fell on the way to the start at Carlisle in May 2016.
Complications with the injury meant surgery to insert six pins to fuse bone together, eight weeks in a wheelchair and months of gruelling rehabilitation work before a return to riding.
But since getting back in the saddle in March, Antrim-born Bell has hit great form and in July rode winners at Thirsk, Redcar and Chester.
Now she has her sights set on completing her comeback by returning with a win at #AmazingMonday – the UK’s only all-female jockey race day – at Carlisle on Monday August 7.
Any jockey who rides a winner at #AmazingMonday and then goes on to triumph in the Betfred Ladies’ Trophy Handicap Stakes at Haydock Park five days later – will win £20,000 and the Jockey Club North West’s special Development Award.
Bell, who rides for Richard Fahey’s Malton stable, said: “The Development Award is a great idea. If you win at Carlisle, you go on to Haydock and you’ve a chance of winning the overall thing.”
The 26-year-old has three rides entered already for #AmazingMonday – Fahey’s Night Law, Invermere and Chiswick Bey.
On her recovery from the accident, Bell said: “10 months was a long time to be out. It was a bit strange the first day I got back on a horse, getting the feel of it, but after a day or two that was quite normal.
“Just to try and get back into racing for the first few months was quite hard, just re-establishing myself. You’ve got to get on with it.”
Rising star Abbie McCain, 17, will be looking to continue her hot form of late, together with sister Ella McCain, 16, who hit the headlines last month after winning her debut race at Carlisle.
Abbie has two rides with Patrick Holmes-saddled entries on #AmazingMonday already, while the hotly-tipped Paula Muir, Helen Cuthbert and Hollie Doyle are all also set to feature.
Cumbria’s very own Cumbria’s Emma Sayer who won last year’s inaugural Development Award also looks set to return with her mother, trainer Dianne, having entered no fewer than seven horses.
Emma said: “Winning the award and the two races is definitely the best thing that has ever happened to me in my career. I’ve never had a feeling like it. I wish I could bottle that feeling and take it round with me.
“The award has provided a window of opportunity for me as you have to look to the future. I invested in a mechanical horse and other riding equipment, put some money aside for racing expenses this summer and into finishing my trainer’s modules.”
Sayer is now a PE teacher at Ullswater Community College and racing this summer as an amateur.
She notched a winner at Cartmel in July and says she has received great support from her employers to once again set her sights on the Development Award. It’s likely she’ll try her hand at #AmazingMonday on a horse trained by mother Dianne at her Hackthorpe stables.
Sayer added: “We have some good horses available for Carlisle. To win again would be absolutely amazing. I know it will be very tough but you’ve got to be in it to win it.”
Rachel Richardson, who was pipped for the Development Award by Sayer last year, is aiming to go one better at Carlisle and Haydock this year.
The 27-year-old rides for Tim Easterby and this season her successes have included three wins at York. Just Hiss triumphed over a mile, Copper Knight in the five-furlong Unibet Sprint Stakes and 12-1 shot Flying Pursuit in the Sky Bet Dash Handicap.
Richardson said: “The Development Award is a fantastic prize. You are at the top for this one, and for everyone competing there’s every chance to win that big prize.
“I love riding at Carlisle, I’ve had a few winners there and it’s one of my favourite tracks. And I can say the same about Haydock because I won the Apprentice Training Series there.”
Should she be successful Richardson has no doubts how she would invest the award money. She said: “I would love to go away to America to learn some more. There’s a lot you can learn, particularly for the flat with your timings, and I’d like to improve myself.”
Another jockey looking to make an impression is Sophie Ralston. The 24-year-old apprentice rider from Galway believes the Development Award is a great incentive.
Ralston said: “I saw Emma’s win at Haydock last year. I think it’s a brilliant idea for those at something like my level of experience. To win it would be a dream come true.”
Tickets for #AmazingMonday on Monday August 7 are available by calling 0344 579 3002 or by going to carlisle.thejockeyclub.co.uk