One year after being diagnosed with cervical cancer, amateur lady jockey Laura Wilson made her comeback to the saddle a winning one, following a rollercoaster 12 months.
The 34-year-old rode the Brian Ellison-trained mare, Our Kylie, to an emotional victory in the lady amateur riders’ Derby at Ripon (22 June) — her first race-ride since the devastating news last summer.
“I found out I had cervical cancer in June 2016, but I initially kept it quiet because I wanted to ride in the Queen Mother’s Cup at York, which I’d won the year before,” said Laura. “I then went on holiday — where I got engaged — before coming home to start my chemotherapy and radiotherapy.”
Remarkably, the Northern-based rider continued to work for her boss Brian Ellison — something she credits for getting her through her treatment.
“I was riding out my lots each morning and Brian and the team were brilliant and so supportive. I was then offered the head girl job, which was a great opportunity,” added Laura.
“I was desperate to one day get my riding licence back so I continued to go to the gym and go running in the hope it would happen.”
Following her successful treatment, the jockey was given the all clear at the start of this year.
“It took a while to get my licence back because the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) were so thorough with their checks.”
Laura was on track to have her first ride back in this year’s Queen Mother’s Cup, however the ground was too firm for her intended mount. Laura’s patience was rewarded when Brian jocked her up on the five-year-old mare at Ripon.
“I couldn’t believe it when she went and won, it was not expected,” said Laura. “It was so nice to have my family there to watch it — my parents were there and my fiancée, Andy, led me up. It was emotional because it was around the same time it all started last year. But I just wanted to prove that I could make a comeback — let alone win.”