BEK Williams is back from the dead and riding winners.
It is a little over 12 months since the apprentice hoop was left fighting for her life after a freak racetrack incident.
Williams took the full brunt of a thoroughbred’s hindquarters, the kick catapulting her five metres through the air, the impact bursting a valve in her heart.
The then almost 21-year-old was declared clinically dead — her heart silent for six minutes.
But she wasn’t done.
Her will to live and fitness took control, kick-starting her heart.
Now the courageous hoop has not only returned to race riding but recently landed her first winner since the accident when former boss Brett Cavanough’s Corsica Lad scored on debut at Wagga.
“It was fantastic to land my first winner since getting back,” Williams said.
“Especially for Brett who has been such a huge supporter throughout my career.”
Williams has little recollection of the accident that could have claimed her life.
The third-year apprentice had just notched her 100th career win at Kerang after riding her mother’s horse, Portland, to victory in the opening race.
She was about to climb aboard Steelmore for the next race but was instead sent flying when kicked by another horse.
Wangaratta-based Williams’ only recollection is waking up in the trauma unit at The Alfred Hospital.
“They said with the compaction of my sternum on my heart, my tricuspid valve actually burst,” she said.
“So instead of the blood pumping through properly, it was regurgitating, and it just stopped.
“They said because I was so fit my heart just kicked back in, so I was very lucky.
“People who have the same injury usually die. They say it’s the same sort of injury as if you’re in a car crash and hit the steering wheel.”
She was looking forward to celebrating her 21st birthday on the day of the accident.
“It was always in the back of my mind, did I want to ride again? It was quite a long road back to where I am now and there were some pretty difficult times.”
Instead Williams spent a week in the cardiac ward followed by a fortnight at her then family home in Bendigo waiting for the swelling to subside.
She then underwent open heart surgery to repair her heart.
Williams admits she had to conquer her mental demons before returning to the saddle in December.
“It was always in the back of my mind, did I want to ride again?”, she said.
“It was quite a long road back to where I am now and there were some pretty difficult times.”
Williams, is indentured to her mother, Jennifer who trains a dozen horses at Wangaratta .
The talented apprentice also had a six-month stint at the Cavanough stables, where she rode more than 20 winners.
“I mainly just ride for mum but also do a bit of track work for Brett who still supports me with a few rides for the stable,” she said.
Williams is set to be reunited with her favourite horse, Portland, at Geelong today.
Portland was Williams’ last winner before her accident and she has partnered the gelding to three of his career wins.