Jonty Evans and his top horse Cooley Rorkes Drift (Art) have been reunited.
The Irish event rider suffered a serious brain injury in a fall from Art at Tattersalls on 3 June this year. Despite a bleak prognosis, he regained consciousness after seven weeks in a coma.
Art was moved to event rider Andrew Downes’ yard to be kept in work in July, but returned home to Jonty’s base on Wednesday 21 November.
“Andrew Downes has done a great job,” said Jonty, who explained that for now Art will be ridden by his head girl Jane Felton, who was recently voted Horseware Groom of the Year at the H&H Awards.
“He might have a quiet couple of weeks and then Jane will keep him ticking along. The feeling really is to get him back into the sort of role he was in before, except that I won’t be riding him. Jane will be working him on the lunge and hacking him out and so on.”
Art and Jonty finished ninth at the Rio Olympics and last year Jonty raised £500,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to secure the ride on the horse after his owners decided to sell him.
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Jonty is currently undergoing rehabilitation under the auspices of Hobbs Rehabilitation’s programme at Oaksey House, the Injured Jockeys Fund’s centre in Lambourn. His treatment is funded by the David Foster Injured Riders Fund.
“I can walk unaided, I can talk, I can run — badly,” he said. “The rehab has consisted of going in a gym and going in a swimming pool. I would hate to say I enjoy it, but I actually do, I quite enjoy the work.
“I feel ok for what I’ve been through. I think it’s possibly sinking in a little bit what I’ve actually been through, because believe it or not, I was asleep so I didn’t know. I think everybody else had a far harder time than me.”
Jonty paid tribute to his family, friends and fans for their support: “My Mum Maggie Evans was with me when I was in hospital in Ireland and my sister Hannah was to and fro. They tried to convey the level of support. I just didn’t believe it — people have been incredible.”
Read our full exclusive interview with Jonty to find out more about his rehabilitation and what the future holds in this week’s H&H (out Thursday, 6 December).