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Daryl Jacob facing race against time to be passed fit for Cheltenham Festival

Daryl Jacob: off since getting injured in a fall at Ascot in December
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Jockey Daryl Jacob has not ruled out returning from injury in time for the Cheltenham Festival, although he said there are still stages to be completed in his rehabilitation.

The Grand National-winning jockey, 38, fractured his hip when he was kicked by a horse in a fall at Ascot in December, but returned to riding out on Tuesday for trainer Harry Whittington.

Jacob also rode out on Wednesday and Thursday and said his injured hip felt "very comfortable”, which is boosting his confidence ahead of a return to race-riding.

“I’ve been riding out for the last three days and, touch wood, everything seems to be going according to plan,” he said. “Everyone at [the Injured Jockeys Fund’s] Oaksey House has been very helpful and riding out has felt very comfortable so far. I’m stepping up my rehab and the screws are starting to be tightened in that respect. 

“It’s been really hard work and it’s been tough but being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel makes a huge difference.”

Blue Lord (right): leading Arkle contender

Despite that Jacob is uncertain whether he will be passed fit in time to ride at the festival. The jockey is retained by leading owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, whose potential runners include Blue Lord in the Grade 1 Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase, Concertista, who holds entries in the Grade 1 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle and Grade 2 Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase, and Sceau Royal in the Grade 1 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

“I’ve got to see the specialist again and then I have to see where I am and how it's all going,” Jacob said. “In my mind, I’ve always had it that I would be there riding but I don’t know yet and there are stages that still need to be done. 

“The horses have been in great form and I have wonderful bosses in Simon and Isaac who are very supportive of me. I know the horses are there when I come back and that’s comforting. I want to get back as soon as I can and I know when I do I'll be completely ready.”

Jacob has partnered three winners at the festival: Zarkandar in the 2011 Triumph Hurdle, Lac Fontana in the 2014 County Hurdle and Concertista in the 2020 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.

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I know the horses are there when I come back and that’s comforting to know
E.W. Terms