Leading Australian eventer Sam Griffiths returned to the eventing circuit with a win on Sunday (24 September) after he seriously injured his neck in a fall at the start of the season.

Sam partnered his 2014 Badminton winner Paulank Brockagh to victory in an open intermediate section at the South of England.

It was his first competitive ride since he learned of his injury in May.

“It was great to be back,” Sam told H&H.

“I was a little bit rusty as I pretty much haven’t ridden for three months and I had only been back riding that week [before the event] — she just looked after me.”

Sam had a fall at Burnham Market in April and had a sore neck afterwards, but kept riding as the crack was “missed on an X-ray”.

About a week after Badminton, the Olympian went to see a specialist and learnt that he had a fracture, so decided to stop riding.

He has been in a neck brace over the summer and has been seeing his specialist every three to four weeks.

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Sam added he has had multiple X-rays and scans and was told there was a chance he might have to have an operation on his neck, which fortunately turned out not to be needed.

“Shane Rose has been riding all my horses and has been competing a lot of them — [Paulank Brockagh] is my top horse and I didn’t let him compete her!” he laughed.

I was really pleased with how she went, she did a really good test and led after dressage.

“My plan was to take it easy — I just kept her moving across country and I didn’t feel she went that fast, but she has a high cruising speed.”

The combination led after dressage on 24.8, completing the cross-country in the fastest time in their section to add 6.4 time faults to their score and finish on a total of 31.2 — more than five penalties ahead of second-placed Pippa Funnell with Billy The Biz.

Sam added he will now aim the mare, with whom he finished fourth individually at the Rio 2016 Olympics, for Pau CCI4* (25-29 October).

“I feel fine, obviously when you haven’t ridden you get a few aches, but I’m feeling really good,” he added.

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