Racing: Reid's career on the rise with Maktoum role

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THE REHABILITATION of John Reid will be completed this week when the jockey signs a contract to ride for Maktoum Al Maktoum, the oldest member of the most powerful family in racing.

The Ulsterman's career appeared to have taken a near fatal dive at Kempton in April when Reid was driven into the ground. A stirrup iron had snapped and, so too, it seemed, had the 44-year-old's connection with a sport which had fed him for 26 years.

The rider has an eight-inch scar on his right leg as a reminder of the terrible damage done that day. He also keeps the body protector, split from top to bottom by another horse in the race, which may have saved him from the wheelchair.

But John Andrew Reid MBE is back now after four months of inactivity, the Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe winning jockey is back partnering Group winners. And he's back in demand. "John's had a cracking time since he came back with 12 winners in England, including Group-race wins," Peter Shoemark, the jockey's agent, said yesterday.

Reid's most notable win since his return was Cape Cross in the Celebration Mile for Godolphin, for whom he also rode Nedawi to success in the St Leger 12 months ago. It was a victory which got him further noticed in another branch of the Maktoum family.

Maktoum Al Maktoum has retained Walter Swinburn and Pat Eddery in the past and is thought to have made overtures to Kieren Fallon once the Irishman's association with Henry Cecil terminated. When Fallon instead pursued a liaison with Michael Stoute's yard the door creaked open for Reid.

"John needs to have further discussions with the owner's racing manager, Joe Mercer, but it should all be sorted out soon," Shoemark said. "It looks like he will ride all of them apart from the Stoute ones, as Kieren Fallon will be in for those.''

So while Reid may be only limping along, the same cannot be said of his career. The new posting will represent his first retainer since the late 1980s when he was affiliated to Vincent O'Brien at Ballydoyle. He has been freelance for the last 15 seasons, albeit with close links to Peter Chapple-Hyam, for whom he won the 1992 Derby on Dr Devious.

The comeback for another rider, Paul Carberry, has not proved quite as enduring or successful. The Grand National-winning jockey returned at Roscommon on Monday after almost five months absence with a spleen injury he incurred while riding work. There was a winner at Tramore the following day but also a fall in a novice chase. Carberry has damaged a knee and will be out until Listowel's card on Monday.

Dean McKeown will be in action before then, in the Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday, as he has managed to get a four-day suspension postponed. McKeown was banned at York last week for his riding of Lago Di Varano in the Portland Handicap, but argued that the timing of the ban was unjust as he had not been able to give his own evidence.

The Jockey Club yesterday upheld the decision of the local stewards but agreed that the ban should begin nine days from yesterday rather than the nine from the original offence. This pleased McKeown, as he is due to partner the fancied Marsad in the highlight of the Western meeting on Saturday. "You could say I'm lucky to be riding in the Ayr Gold Cup, but they've made mistakes in their procedure," the jockey said. "If the police made a mistake in a criminal offence it would be thrown out of court.

"You're always better off taking part in these big handicaps rather than sitting in the stands and I do believe Marsad will have a great chance if the ground stays soft."