Robert “Choc” Thornton out of action for a year with knee injury

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  • H&H columnist Robert Thornton may not be able to ride for a year after severing ligaments in his knee in a fall.

    The jump jockey, commonly known as “Choc”, was leading in a beginners’ chase at Newton Abbott on 5 July when his mount, the Paul Nicholls-trained Hell’s Bay, ran out through the wing at the second-last fence.

    It was a freak accident – my knee must have hit the one solid post that held the wing together. I was sitting on the floor with my legs out in front of me and my lower leg was bent at a 70-degree angle, which scared me,” Robert told H&H.

    “The doctor put it back straight, and I knew nothing was broken. But I couldn’t put any weight on it because it felt like it might cave in.

    My knee blew up to three times the size overnight and I was bruised from my ankle to my groin in the morning. Anna-Louise Mackinnon, the Professional Jockeys’ Association doctor, got me in to see [orthopaedic surgeon] John Webb at 8am, and initially it felt ok.

    “I thought I would be back riding in a few weeks, but he scanned it and told me to work back from 12 months.”

    Robert has severed the medical collateral ligament, the anterior cruciate ligament and the posterior cruciate ligament – three of the four ligaments in the knee.

    He is being operated on tomorrow morning [8 July] at St Mary’s in Bristol, and will have to avoid moving the knee for six weeks, before beginning rehabilitation.

    He said: “This is not the end of my riding career. I’ve been lucky up until now – every jump jockey expects to have a long period off with injury at some point and mine is now.

    “But I’d have been better off breaking lots of bones!”

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