Down to earth with a bump

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Ryan Mania has made front-page news for two successive days, and for totally different reasons. Yesterday the story was all about a relatively unknown jockey from the Northern racing circuit guiding the outsider Auroras Encore, trained by Sue Smith, to success in the Grand National. Today, there was speculation in some reports about whether he would be able to ride again after he was kicked following a fall at Hexham.

A global television audience of around 600 million people watched Mania’s exploits on Saturday. A day later he was plying his trade in front of fewer than 2,000. He arrived at the course with an escort of two security staff to ensure he had room too get through to the changing room without too much delay from the people seeking his autograph.

Mania had already had a taste of celebrity on Saturday night when he returned home to Galashiels, where a local rugby sevens tournament went on hold to allow everyone to watch the National. He explained, “They said they had played the National at the sevens and the place erupted when I won. They said could I please come in on the way back and when I got there at 10.20pm the team were shown onto the pitch and then me. The atmosphere was amazing under the floodlights. There were thousands of townspeople and I knew most of them. It meant so much to them. To see them so happy, it was just great.”

Mania reckoned he managed about an hour’s sleep before he was up at 5.30am to head to Bingley, and then back up north to Hexham.

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His first ride after then National was on another horse from Smith’s Bingley yard, Stagecoach Jasper, in the two and a half mile St John Lee Handicap Hurdle. All was going well until the fourth hurdle. The pair jumped the flight but stumbled on landing. Mania hit the turf and was then kicked between the shoulders by one of the horses behind him.

As time went by and with the screens surrounding him, concern for Mania’s welfare grew, and then increased as the Great North Air Ambulance appeared in the skies. After 25 minutes, Mania was put onto a spinal board and taken off to hospital in Newcastle.

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Initial reports suggested neck and back injuries, but also noted that the jockey had been conscious and talking all the time, which was good. His injuries were described as severe/serious by the medical team, but he was stable on arriving at the hospital. By last night Mania was tweeting, "Thanks so much for all the messages. I'm grand. Staying in hospital to get another scan tomorrow then should be home. #highsandlows."

If he is released from hospital after an MRI scan this morning, Mania may wish he had taken the advice of his valet, Steve Charlton, who had offered some advice shortly after the National. He was quickly on the scene of yesterday’s accident and reported, “He (Mania) could move all his limbs and was talking away. I think he received a kick between the shoulder blades, which was causing him pain. They are so careful these days. I said to him yesterday he should give up his rides at Hexham and have a few drinks last night.”

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