To celebrate the Injured Jockeys Fund being Horse & Hound's charity for 2016, we meet some of the equestrians who have benefitted from its help. Paul Moloney talks to H&H about the day of his accident and how Oaksey House got him on the road to recovery
Jump jockey Paul Moloney, who hails from Co Tipperary, started his riding career in Ireland. He rode his first point-to-point winner for trainer Danny O’Connell in 1996, having initially been heavily involved in hunting and showjumping,
In the summer of 2004 he relocated to Britain and after a short stint with Yogi Breisner he turned professional.
In the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Grand Nationals Paul steered the Evan Williams trained State Of Play, to finish fourth, third and fourth consecutively.
In 2012 he came third on new ride Cappa Bleu and returned again to place second in 2013. Paul also finished fourth in the 2014 and 2015 Grand Nationals aboard Fergal O’Brien’s Alvarado.
Surgery, staples and Oaksey House
In 2015 he was enjoying an excellent run of form, lying eighth in the jump jockeys’ table when his mount, Williams-trained Kudu Country, fell at the first fence in a 2m handicap chase at Ludlow on 2 December. The fall resulted in a fractured left tibia, fibula and ankle for Paul.
“There’s never a good time to have an accident, but after the fall, the first thing I thought was, ‘We’re bang in the middle of the season and I’m going to miss all big Saturday meetings,'” says Paul.
“I had surgery, and 12 days later I had the staples taken out of my leg. Two days later I was at the Injured Jockeys Fund’s Oaksey House,” he recalls.
A tailor-made rehabilitation programme got Paul fighting fit again. He initially attended a one-hour session twice a week, before building up to a two hour session three times a week, supplemented by daily swims at his local swimming pool.
“The anti-gravity [AlterG] treadmill was a great help,” he says.
This facility at Oaksey House allows patients to regain mobility and develop strength while minimising stress on the injury.
“I started exercising on just 10% of my body weight and then slowly built it up. When we got to 80% that’s when I knew we were really moving forward.”
Towards the end of Paul’s rehabilitation, the Princess Royal (patron of the Injured Jockeys Fund) paid a visit to Oaksey House. “She had a look at the x-rays taken that morning and was very interested in my progress,” he remembers.
Just 11 weeks to the day of his accident, Paul was back race riding. His initial comeback was planned for Ludlow on 24 February this year, but sadly the meeting was cancelled. Instead he turned his focus to Huntingdon the following day where he rode for trainer Conrad Allen.
Back on form, that Friday, he steered On The Road to victory for Evan Williams at the Handicap Hurdle at Exeter, and on Saturday, had five rides at Chepstow, which resulted in two seconds, a third and a (non-serious) fall.
The December fall at Ludlow was not Paul’s first serious accident. “In 2000, when based in Ireland I broke my pelvis in three places,” he recalls. “And 11 years ago I broke my leg over here, but Oaksey House wasn’t an option then.”
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“Oaksey House is such a great facility,” Paul adds. “I know it would have been a massive help with my broken leg eleven years ago if it had been available. If it wasn’t for Oaksey House this time, there’s no way I would have been back race riding so quickly.”