Racing: Lower conquers all odds

Last year Jonothan Lower was told he was a diabetic and would never ride again. Next week the jockey hopes to hear that after a long battle he can return to his beloved saddle.

With the Dewhurst, Champion Stakes and Racing Post Trophy still to come nobody really gives a fig yet about the National Hunt season. Within the winter game itself there is amnesia too about a jump jockey who has not flown over birch in anger for well over a year now.

It may well be though that Jonothan Lower is on the verge of earning an enduring ledge in racing history. The Jockey Club is expected to announce next week that the 30-year-old is to be allowed to return to the racecourse, uniquely on a restricted licence that will limit the number of rides each day. Lower will be the first diabetic to ride in Britain. "I don't think they've got reason to say I can't ride" Lower said yesterday. "This is history. At the beginning of this the Jockey Club were adamant they would never let a diabetic ride and now I'm hoping to show they were wrong."

Lower has been around so long that he was at Martin Pipe's Nicholashayne yard before the little trainer started limping. Like house foundations, Lower has been vital without being the most visible part of the operation.

When Peter Scudamore and Richard Dunwoody, both stable jockeys past at Pond House, have nightmares, the bete noire of their dreams inevitably has a familiar figure in the saddle. Lower has made a habit of winning big races on discards. His scroll of honour includes Sondrio (Supreme Novices' Hurdle), Kissair (Triumph Hurdle) and Sayparee (Scottish Champion Hurdle). He also boasts a hat-trick at the 1996 Aintree Festival which made him joint leading rider at the meeting.

Just a few months after Liverpool, however, a limb and his career were in tatters following an accident one work morning. "I broke an arm on the gallops and then two weeks later I was permanently feeling thirsty and losing weight," he said. "I didn't feel ill but I knew my body shouldn't have been like that and there was something wrong with me. They told me I had diabetes.

"It can be brought on by shock or stress, so one theory is that it could have been the shock of breaking my arm. It was a big blow when the doctor told me I was diabetic, but that was nowhere near as bad as being told that I couldn't ride because of it."

Lower resolved to fight back. Since January he has been on medical probation, establishing his capability to return to the saddle under the guidance of Stephanie Amiel, the professor of diabetic medicine at King's College School of Medicine. This week her report will bounce on the table of the Jockey Club's chief medical adviser, Dr Michael Turner. "The worry was that if my blood sugars dropped too low I could pass out, but I think I've proved over the last year that I am in control. The specialist agrees," Lower said. "I have to inject insulin and monitor my blood sugar levels. Normally it would be two injections a day, but because of the nature of what I'm doing it's four times a day."

The trusty lieutenant has been riding out seven lots a day, as well as schooling, this autumn, and each moment has been preparing to get back to the racecourse. "I've missed it tremendously," he said. "It's been my life and all I wanted to do since I was a boy. I've been going to races, saddling up, talking to owners and watching but it's not quite the same thing, especially as I've been doing all the work at home on some of the horses."

If, as expected, Lower is returned his licence, he will be initially accompanied to the track by Dr Turner. Later it will be the responsibilty of the course doctor to double-check the readings on the jockey's blood- sugar calculator. Whatever the result, Lower will start with just one ride a day, a restricted licence which will also place a bottom limit on his weight. "Each step that Jonothan has taken has not been done by anyone before," Dr Turner said yesterday. "The next stage is to get him into the racing arena and see how he copes."

The impression seems to be that this recovering jockey will manage most admirably. They say that National Hunt jockeys are tough men, made out of the same sort of material they employ for the hulls of icebreakers. Jonothan Lower does not let down the reputation.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
Sport
Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse come together
football
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
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

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life