BRENDAN Ward remembers sitting up, pain racking his body and laying straight back down.
The former Wodonga hoop, the leading jockey in the Southern Districts, was on the turf — one of three jockeys involved in a horror fall at Wagga last Friday.
He knew he was in trouble but had no idea he’d broken his neck.
Yesterday Ward spoke exclusively to The Border Mail about the fall, his incredible good luck and a desire to be back in the saddle in three months.
The 41-year-old was speaking from his bed at the St George Hospital, having been flown to Sydney as doctors feared the worst.
Ward said he was in a world of pain as soon as he crashed to the turf.
“I didn’t know it was going to be this serious, but I knew I was sore straight after the fall,” he said.
“I believe I sat up and then laid down again because I was in pain all over my body.
“It’s always best just to lay down and let the ambulance officers do their job.
“I didn’t think I had broken my neck or anything because I still had full movement in all of my limbs.”
Fellow jockeys Carly Frater and Andrew Bloomfield were also taken to hospital.
Frater was knocked unconscious and broke her collarbone.
Bloomfield escaped serious injury.
“I’m not feeling too bad considering what happened,” Ward said.
“All I know is I have got a fractured C2 and am just waiting on further results from a MRI scan to confirm how the ligaments are around the neck.
“I consider myself fairly lucky because I have seen the replay and it could have easily been six jockeys that fell.
“Overall I think it was pretty fortunate there was only three of us and there were no life-changing injuries.
“But it’s a terrifying experience to be told you have broken your neck.
“At one stage I was told I might require surgery, which would have been pretty hard to take.”
Ward, who has more than 25 years’ experience in the saddle, said his previous worst injury was a broken ankle more than a decade ago.
The talented hoop started his career as an apprentice under Wodonga trainer Ollie Cox, who died on Thursday, aged 83.
He rode mainly in the Border area for two decades before moving to Canberra early in 2010.
Ward is the reigning Southern Districts premiership-winning jockey and last season became just the fifth rider to reach 100 winners in a season in NSW and the ACT.
The hard-working hoop has been overwhelmed by wellwishers since the accident, with fellow jockeys Nick Souquet and Ernie Marchant having already visited him in hospital.
Ward hoped to be released from hospital tomorrow and would be required to spend up to the next three months in a neck brace.
He said he couldn’t wait to get back into the saddle.
“The accident hasn’t dulled my passion for racing at all,” he said.
“We all know its a dangerous sport and sometimes these things happen.”