The spells of dizziness led to a referral to both a cardiologist and neurologist for tests to investigate the problem. But Drowne had to give up his driving licence, and without this he was not insured even to ride out at stables.
Neither an MRI scan nor an EEG showed anything definite, and the cardiologist recorded an incident of vasovaga – fainting to you and me – and all looked good for him to return. He says, “When everything pointed to vasovaga I had my driving licence back within ten days. I was riding out and thought by now I would be nearly riding but I was called back to London. The cardiologist diagnosed vasovaga but the neurologist overruled him and said I had been misdiagnosed, which was a shock as I had been out riding.”
Drowne now has to undergo a further series of tests and seek a second opinion on the matter. But it looks as if it will be difficult for him to get clearance as he explains. “The problem is that all the tests have proved completely clear and they have nothing to pin it down to. They take the worst-case scenario and I have to continue with tests. There are a few to go through and it will take weeks and weeks. I imagine it will be months rather than weeks before I’ll know when I can return.”
The worst-case scenario Drowne fears is a diagnosis of epilepsy, which would put an end to his career as a jockey that has taken him from Newmarket’s British Racing School in the late 1980s to Group 1 successes with Mick Channon’s CD Europe and both Patavellian and Avonbridge for Roger Charlton. He is now one of the most respected senior members of the weighing room.
It’s perhaps partly with the thought that he may never be able to resume riding that he has begun to look in other directions for work, including some media activity. A new guest writer, Matt?