Royston Ffrench to make Southwell comeback after seven months out
Jockey Royston Ffrench, off since a fall at Jebel Ali in January, returns with four rides at Southwell on Monday.
Ffrench, who regularly spends his winters riding in Dubai, was hurt when Frankyfourfingers suffered a fatal fall in the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile.
It left the rider, whose biggest win came on Al Shemali in the 2010 Dubai Duty Free, with a dislocated elbow and fractures to his leg and arm, while he also suffered serious damage to ligaments in his left knee, which had to be rebuilt – the chief reason for his absence.
However, he is now back to full fitness after spending time at Jack Berry House, the jockeys' rehabilitation centre in North Yorkshire and has two rides for John Holt on Southwell's card and one each for Mick Appleby and Ivan Furtado.
Ffrench said: "It was a long old time, but thankfully I had a great team behind me in the Injured Jockeys Fund and Jack Berry House, plus the support from family and friends. I'd also like to thank everyone who called to see how I was and sent well wishes.
"Kieren Fallon and Connor Beasley were also a massive help to my rehab. Kieren was out in Dubai at the time and was always seeing how I was and trying to help in any way he could, as was Connor, who was a huge help and basically looked after me as I was in a wheelchair for some time."
Ffrench, champion apprentice in 1997, described the injury as the worst he had suffered in his 23 years in the saddle.
He added: "I had three bones removed from my elbow and one went through the tendon, which I had to have rebuilt. I've been riding out for the last two weeks.
"With the IJF and Jack Berry House, I think – without obviously race-riding sharpness – I'm the fittest I've ever been and that's thanks to them. I'm very grateful I'm able to get back on a horse and I'll have a month and a half here before going back to Dubai."
Ffrench's weighing room colleague Sean Levey, meanwhile, remains on the sidelines but hopes a return is not far off.
Levey, who won the 1,000 Guineas on Billesdon Brook in May, was hurt in a fall at Salisbury in June.
The Classic winner was initially thought to have broken a collarbone, but he required a shoulder operation.
He said: "The stabiliser screw came out on Wednesday. It's given me a little bit more mobility, but it's still going to take a little while longer until I can ride again.
"The plate and the other screws are still in, but they're fine and I can ride with them. I'll see the specialist again in a month's time for a check-up and to see how the bone is healing, but I'd be hoping to ride before that."
Like Ffrench, Levey has benefited from the Injured Jockeys Fund's facilities, in his case at Oaksey House in Lambourn.
He added: "I'll have to see what the physios say and wait for the thumbs-up that they're happy for me to ride."
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