Second turns out to be sweet enough on Choc Thornton comeback

No winner , but the broadest smile at Exeter yesterday belonged to Choc Thornton after a comeback that defied medical opinion. After a horror fall in July that snapped three of the four ligaments in his right knee, doctors predicted as much as a year on the sidelines for the jockey. But it was only five months to the day later that he threw that pesky leg over hurdler Causeway King and came within a length and a half of a fairytale victory.

Thornton is the first to admit that he has never worshipped at the altar of physical fitness with the same obsession as some in the weighing room. But he admitted yesterday that the seriousness of his injury, caused when his mount Hell's Bay crashed through the wing of an obstacle, and the prospect of missing a season, concentrated his mind in that department. "When they told me it could be 12 months off, I cried," he said. "But it made me realise just how much I wanted to be riding and I decided to work on six and get on with it. To come back in exactly five is just brilliant."

But for the adverse weather, Thornton would have been back sooner, having been given the all-clear last week. His recuperation included two bouts of surgery and sessions with the Manchester United physiotherapists, for whom knee problems are meat and drink. "It was the sort of injury I had to work, to load as much as possible," he said, "and I can't speak highly enough of everyone who helped."

Causeway King, who blazed the trail for two miles yesterday and was caught only after the last hurdle, thoroughly tested Thornton's physique and resolve, including one heart-stopping moment at the second flight, when he briefly jinked towards the wing.

"The leg feels fine but I'm having a bit of a blow," said the rider afterwards. "I've been riding out for a few weeks, but there's no substitute for race-riding. After two or three more rides I'll be spot-on and although the weather is frustrating, maybe it won't hurt to ease back one day on, one day off."

Causeway King's bunny-hop over the last handed the initiative to the 22-1 outsider Salontyre, ridden by novice rider Isabel Tompsett, a practising vet. And it seems Thornton's chauvinism, however good-natured, is as healthy as his limbs. "For a moment I thought I might come back with a winner," he added, "and then I get done by a girl."

Full credit was given by all present to the Exeter officials for managing to stage the meeting, which was given the go-ahead only after a mid-morning inspection. There is no jumps racing today, and even the so-called all-weather track at Lingfield is subject to a morning inspection. "It takes four hours to get the covers down," said course clerk Simon Claisse. "You're talking about an area the size of 25 football pitches. But in our favour is that our soil temperature is still above four degrees."

Turf account

Sue Montgomery's Nap

Avonrose (2.00 Lingfield)

All-weather debutante who has acquitted herself well on turf, in much better company than today's.



Next best

Soviet Spring (12.30 Lingfield)

Drops back in trip after disappointing as favourite last time, when he paid for over-keenness in the closing stages.



One to watch

Progressive mare Call Me A Legend (A King) blew the cobwebs away on her seasonal debut last month, only her second run over fences after an easy victory 10 months before.



Where the money's going

Yesterday's Exeter marathon winner C'monthehammers has been cut from 40-1 from 66-1 for the Welsh National with sponsors Coral.



Chris McGrath's Nap

Upthemsteps (3.20 Southwell).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral