'It's been a long road' - Harriet Bethell to saddle comeback runner on Monday
Harriet Bethell will complete a remarkable comeback from life-threatening injuries when she makes her return as a trainer at Wolverhampton on Monday.
Her last runner was mile handicap winner Sumner Beach at Pontefract on August 7, 2019, although she was not on course that day because she was fighting for her life after a freak fall on the gallops.
Bethell suffered multiple bleeds on the brain, spent six weeks in a coma and nine months in various hospitals.
Her father William took over the licence at their yard near Hull in East Yorkshire while she recovered from a brain injury that was so serious part of her skull was removed to ease the pressure. She had to relearn how to do tasks as simple as cleaning her teeth or using a knife and fork.
But months of physiotherapy and occupational therapy, as well as speech and language therapy, have paid off and she is back in charge as Steel Helmet runs in the opening 1m6f handicap under Josephine Gordon on Monday.
"I'm looking forward to it," she said. "It's been a long road, although I was always confident this day would come.
"I'll be at Wolverhampton and it's going to be a bit different but it will be great to be back."
Steel Helmet, owned by her father, is likely to be among the outsiders for the 1m6f handicap but Bethell said: "I hope he will outrun his odds.
"He'll be much sharper for his last run at Newcastle. Josephine gets a great tune out of him and has won three times on him."
Bethell already has one racecourse success to celebrate as she received the 'Magic Moment in Racing' prize at the Vertem Northern Racing Awards at Newcastle on Friday night.
She was given a standing ovation by the 300 guests as she made her way to the stage to be presented with the trophy, in recognition of her astonishing recovery and her sponsored course walk at Pontefract last month, which has so far raised nearly £60,000 for the Injured Jockeys Fund.
"It was great," she said. "There were lots of special video messages and that was really meaningful and supportive."
Bethell, who rode successfully as an amateur, started training in 2016 and had sent out five winners from just 21 runners in the 2019 Flat season when her career was halted by the accident.
Donations to the IJF on her behalf can still be made at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harriet-bethell
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