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Rising star back from horrific fall with eyes on championship titles

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  • Multiple eventing youth medallist and apprentice jockey Saffie Osborne has praised the “incredible” Oaksey House team, on her return to the saddle four months after a nasty fall.

    Saffie, who has won five medals across pony and junior Europeans, is eyeing both the champion apprentice title and young rider eventing team selection this year.

    The 18-year-old broke ribs and her left arm, and punctured a lung, in a fall at Windsor on 19 October. Her mount, Zeyzoun, clipped heels with another horse, whose jockey was subsequently given a 10-day ban.

    Saffie told H&H this week (8 February) she “can’t describe” the brilliant feeling of being back in the saddle after a “long road” to recovery.

    “I feel absolutely normal in myself and I’m fitter and stronger than ever thanks to Oaksey House and the amazing team there,” said Saffie.

    “I started back on my event horse [Lakantus] first for a couple of days, and now I’m back on the racehorses and it’s full steam ahead to getting back on the track for March.”

    The advanced event rider, who has been back in the saddle for exactly a week, paid further tribute to the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) team.

    “I’m so lucky that I live two minutes away from Oaksey House. It is an incredible facility, but it is the people there who make it,” she said, adding that they are “so encouraging”.

    “I had my fall on the Monday, left hospital on the Thursday and was there on the following Monday. Since then, I’ve been in there five days a week for the last four months for two to three hours each and every day.

    “It helps physically, of course, as you are getting better and fitter, but it also really helps with the mental health side as well. As a jockey — and also having an event horse — I’m used to being so busy every day, then suddenly you come to this abrupt halt and feel like you are not achieving anything.

    “That’s where the team at Oaksey House were amazing; they were so encouraging and the whole mindset was gearing you up to get back on — you achieve something every day and you’re getting up in the morning with a purpose.”

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    Saffie recently signed with jockey agent Nial Hannity and has her sights firmly set on the champion apprentice title, with the aim of returning to race-riding in March “hopefully a couple of weeks ahead of the turf season”.

    While Saffie stressed racing now comes first, as that is where she sees her career going, she will also target a step up to four-star eventing with Lord and Lady Blythe’s Lakantus this season alongside young rider team selection.

    The 11-year-old Hannoverian gelding won team silver with Saffie at the 2019 junior Europeans and the pair moved up to advanced together last summer.

    “We did our first CCI3*-L at Thoresby in October, where we jumped double clear, and he was meant to have a couple of months off, then I had my fall, so we sort of went on our break together,” said Saffie.

    “He is my main motivation to keep eventing as he is so special.”

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