TALENTED young Heathcote reinswoman Shannon O'Sullivan says she is determined to bounce back as quickly as possible from the injuries she sustained in a horrific race fall at Ouyen last Sunday.
O'Sullivan suffered a deep chin laceration after being thrown from the sulky at the finish line of Sunday's last race.
The 20-year-old underwent plastic surgery earlier this week but is optimistic of no lasting effects.
O'Sullivan, who is enjoying the best season of her short, but blossoming career, with 21 wins and 34 placings, insisted the injury would be no setback.
Back home at Heathcote with family, she has vowed to be back in the sulky as early as next week.
"I was awake while it (the surgery) was happening and the surgeon is confident there isn't any nerve damage, and there were no nerves cut, it's more just bruising around the area that is affecting the nerves to my lip and chin," she said.
"It's a bit like a stroke effect, but they are saying that should go back to normal once the bruising and swelling goes down.
"I will go back Monday for a post-operation out-patient check-up and they will check that my stitches are all good and that everything is healing up nicely.
"From there if that all goes good, I'm hoping I can get back in the sulky again and race at Mildura (April 2).
"Everyone's thinking that it should be a bit longer, but because it's in an area that doesn't affect how I drive or hold a horse, or how I sit in the cart - and it's something I can cover up when I have a helmet on - I think can get away with getting onto the track earlier.
"I just want to get back out there, I miss the racing.
"I should be able to get a medical clearance, it's more I need to keep (the wound) clean and covered when I race, which is the main worry.
"It will probably take about a month to heal up completely."
O'Sullivan, who was driving the Scott Garraway-trained Bettor B Nice, was initially taken to Mildura Base Hospital, but was transported by air to Melbourne's Austin Hospital on Monday night for surgery.
According to the stewards' report, the six-year-old gelding "was pulling hard when held up over the final half lap, was unable to obtain clear running and on the finish line contacted the sulky of Ayejayem despite the efforts of driver Shannon O'Sullivan.
"Bettor B Nice then fell upon crossing the finish line checking Advance Academy and Come On Elvis," the report continued.
"Bettor B Nice NZ was examined by the on-course veterinarian and was found to have a laceration above one eye which required a stitch, in addition to minor abrasions to both forelegs."
O'Sullivan, who is only a month away from turning 21, said she remembered little about the fall.
"I was unconscious for 40 or so seconds - I remember just going up in the air and seeing the horse's head in the air and me going down with it," she said.
"My only thought was I hope the horse is okay and I haven't killed it. That's the last thing I really remember before waking up on the ground and being pulled out and put in an ambulance.
"I was wanting to say to Scott (Garraway) I'm happy to jump on him next time you have him in and hopefully I can get you a winner this time."
O'Sullivan said she was grateful for all the well-wishes and messages of support since the incident.
"Mum and dad said all the drivers were worried - the minute they finished the race, Connor Ronan won it, but you could see him looking behind the whole time making sure I was okay," she said.
"I received a lot of calls and messages and Snapchats asking if I was okay - it's been a really resounding response.
"I could not be more thankful for the people in harness racing for all their support."
O'Sullivan singled out Garraway and Mildura Base Hospital nurse Maddy Tormey - the sister of Bendigo-based trainer-driver Ellen - for their care and concern while in hospital.
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