Drowne beats a path back to the treadmill

Broken leg halts breakthrough year of a jockey determined to start again in quest to escape ranks of the journeymen

When you watch it on television, it looks rather pleasant being a jockey. You turn up at the races, get swished round the track by a swift athlete, explain how you were somehow the leading figure in the victorious partnership, and then retire to count the loot.

When you watch it on television, it looks rather pleasant being a jockey. You turn up at the races, get swished round the track by a swift athlete, explain how you were somehow the leading figure in the victorious partnership, and then retire to count the loot.

This seems to be the lot for the celebrity riders. Yet, for all the spangled little men riding winners, there has got to be a greater body of losers.

Steven Drowne was part of this underbelly for many years until this season, when he appeared to be on the brink of a breakthrough to a new level. A Coventry Stakes victory on Mick Channon's Cd Europe suggested he was about to become a mover in this capricious game, but then came a far less pleasant breakthrough.

On 30 June, TG's Girl was on her way to post for the Arena Leisure Maiden Stakes at Folkestone when she went a little bonkers. The filly crashed into the rails and threw Drowne to the floor, breaking his leg just above the ankle in the process.

The 28-year-old recently started riding out again, but was told on Tuesday that he will have to miss another six weeks before he can return to race riding. For him, riding's heaven will have to wait. "It wasn't the best of breaks, just above the ankle," he said yesterday. "It had to be screwed and plated. The surgeon said that if it broke again and I got an infection it could be the end of my career.

"I might get the last two weeks of the turf season in now and then I'll be riding on the all-weather right through the winter. I certainly don't need a holiday soon."

It has all been a considerable trapdoor for the only son of a Devon farmer who has been riding winners for over 10 years. Drowne is a graduate of the British Racing School, a man who has ridden lots of losers, but is no loser himself. He appreciates the successes that come and is no stranger to the yeoman qualities of hard work and virtue. Trainer Toby Balding's wife Caro calls him "the Wonderful Steven" because of his copybook atttitude to work and life. Good manners, hard work and professionalism are part of his fabric. Yet consistent glorious achievement is not.

No-one knows if good horses will go slower just because Steven Drowne, and many men like him, are on them. Chances are we will never find out. But if you want persistence, there are few with better qualifications. "It does get to you riding bad horses day after day," he says. "You're always half hoping that you'll get on one that's going to take you up there. What I do is a lot harder than being a top jockey. Me, and people like me, chase round the country, riding everywhere. When you get the profile of someone like Frankie and Kieren, at least you can pick and choose when you ride. And you can ride six good horses and come back fresh, whereas just one bad one can bottom you."

Cd Europe apart, Drowne's greatest moments have been a victory on Sea Freedom in the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting in 1997, and a neck second on Golden Silca to Hula Angel in last year's Irish 1,000 Guineas. Even that exercise showed, however, how difficult it is to climb out of the barrel. The Classic should have been Drowne's stirrup to wider public consciousness, but, instead, he did not get a mention. Willie Carson told BBC viewers that Richard Hughes had been on the horse.

Drowne's task now is to make sure he is never again confused with another. It will not be easy. His bed was still warm at Channon's yard when Craig Williams, the Australian who has made such an impact this season, slipped between the sheets. As in the past, Drowne can only tighten his belt, tighten his resolve and impress with manner and results.

"It's not too bad now because I can get around and do some gardening, but when the cast was on and I was on crutches that was the worst," he says. "To look on the bright side, at least I did have a couple of high-profile winners before the accident. If it had happened last year I might have been completely forgotten. Now people might be waiting for me to come back. I think, I hope, the old contacts will be fine.

"The most disappointing thing was that I was starting to get on horses at Channon's that had the class to win Group races. I reckon I've missed two or three Group races already. This should have been my breakthrough year."

News
Young Winstone: His ‘tough-guy’ image is a misconception
people
News
David Ryall in Harry Potter
people
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Sport
Adnan Januzaj and Gareth Bale
footballManchester United set to loan out Januzaj to make room for Bale - if a move for the Welshman firms up
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Wayne Rooney warms up ahead of the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United at White Hart Lane
football
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
filmIdris Elba responds to James Bond rumours on Twitter
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
News
Outspoken: Alexander Fury, John Rentoul, Ellen E Jones and Katy Guest
newsFrom the Scottish referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones
film
News
i100
Sport
Yaya Sanogo, Mats Hummels, Troy Deeney and Adnan Januzaj
footballMost Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
Voices
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers
voicesIt has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you have previous experience...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

How we met

Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

Who does your club need in the transfer window?

Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

Michael Calvin's Last Word

From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015