INJURED Bendigo jockey John Keating has arrived home after spending the last four nights in hospital in Melbourne following a nasty fall at Wangaratta last Wednesday.
Keating avoided surgery, but will spend an extended period on the sidelines after suffering fractures to T4 and T7 vertebrae and high neck following the fall aboard the Matthew Enright-trained Bonfire Gold.
The Bendigo jockey, who also sustained superficial wounds to his collarbone and right wrist, had just won the race on the six-year-old gelding, which knuckled and fell only metres past the winning post.
The RMH have kicked @JohnKeatingAU out today, with the most fashionable of corsetry for his couple of fractures; back in two weeks for assessment, until then home & rest. Thanks everyone for your well-wishes and thoughts. pic.twitter.com/zQmPfCJNzL— Southcombe Stables (@SouthcombeStbls) April 28, 2019
Keating was in remarkably high spirits on his arrival back in Bendigo late on Sunday, but still had no recollection of the race and subsequent fall.
"I didn't learn until hours after the race that I had actually won," he said.
"I still have no memory of the race. I had a feeling (on Wednesday night) it was at Wangaratta, but I wasn't 100 per cent sure.
"I'm struggling obviously, but I'll get there."
Keating will be required to wear a collar for the next six to eight weeks and will also need the use of a frame on his body when not sleeping. His right arm is in a sling
While no time frame has been placed on his return to the saddle, Keating said the important thing to stress was that he would in fact be back.
"I don't think I'll be out that long, I personally don't," he said.
"It could have been worse - I have had worse," Keating added in reference to the horrific fall at Kyneton in February 2014, that left him unconscious and sidelined him for nearly six months with head injuries.
On that occasion, Keating spent 10 days in intensive care at The Alfred, and another two days in the general ward, before moving to The Epworth for weeks of rehabilitation.
"It's not as big a deal as the last one," the amazingly upbeat jockey said.
"They did scans the other night which revealed no issues with the head.
"None of the injuries are anything you couldn't come back from, I plan on doing everything right with the rehab and I won't be going out playing tennis or anything to place stress on things.
"I will give things every chance to recover."
Keating, who was initially treated at Wangaratta Hospital before being moved ti The Royal Melbourne, has ridden well over 400 in Australia in a career that kicked off in 1988.
Trainer Enright has been in regular contact with Keating and added Bonfire Gold had emerged largely unscathed from the fall.
"There was a hole in the track and he found the hole and toppled over .... not ideal," he said.
"We all live to fight another day.
"It was a good win for the horse - we thought he'd be hard to beat. He was $17 the night before and ended up paying $7.
"I haven't worked him since, obviously we have looked after him - sadly it's one of those things with racing.
"But our thoughts are with John."
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.