Thornton falls in step on road to recovery

Given that their first baby is due three days before Christmas, Robert Thornton's wife could be pardoned for taking a suspicious view of his determination to get out of the house. To anyone else, however, the very possibility that he could already be back at work is a matter for undiluted celebration. Told that he might be out for 12 months after a fall at Newton Abbot in July, Thornton is so far ahead of schedule he could even treat a schooling spill yesterday as another significant breakthrough.

"It was just a young horse who was a little bit green," he said. "He jammed on the brakes going to the hurdle, and I went out the front door. Before I knew it, I was on the floor. And while it probably sounds a bit daft, I was glad – glad to get it out of the way, that first fall."

Monday is his next crossroads, when he hopes that his surgeon, Jonathan Webb, will authorise a return to the racecourse before Christmas. Having thought the injury relatively innocuous, Thornton remembers how shocked he was at the initial prognosis. It turned out that he had ruptured three of the four ligaments in his right knee.

"When they told me I was looking at a year out, I cried," he said. "I'm not ashamed to admit that. But I was never bitter. I figured I had been very lucky with injuries. I'd never previously been out more than three weeks, the odd collarbone. I asked Jonathan if I could aim for six months, and he said it would be hard, but that the people who had surprised him in the past were jockeys, and ballet dancers. I do want it right, before coming back. But it does feel right. It can still stiffen up a bit, but both knees now bend the same."

Those assisting Thornton's recovery are certainly well versed in the demands of elite sport. Webb himself is a former rugby international, while the fact that he suffered the injury riding for Paul Nicholls, whose patrons include Sir Alex Ferguson, opened the door to a day of physiotherapy in Manchester United's training complex at Carrington. Thornton found himself working out between Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves, who both knew all about long-term knee injuries. "Robert Swires, the head physio there, was fantastic," Thornton said. "They know how much it can take, and taught me not to be scared of pushing it."

Thornton also praises Wayne Hutchinson, his understudy at Alan King's yard. "He's been doing a great job and I'm so pleased for him," he said. "Nobody likes to miss winners but I want them to be running well, because it gives me more incentive to get back."

Thornton was here to watch King win with his only runner, while a treble for Nicky Henderson confirmed another National Hunt powerhouse to be approaching top gear for the Hennessy meeting at Newbury later this week.

* Peter Monteith, the Midlothian trainer, was found dead at home on Sunday. He was 61. Police said there were no suspicious circumstances. His finest hour was at the 1994 Cheltenham Festival, winning the County Hurdle with Dizzy.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

First Swallow (12.40 Southwell)

Thrived on this surface last winter, and coped creditably with a sharper test round Wolverhampton last time after shaping well on turf in the autumn.



Next best

Slew Charm (3.20 Lingfield)

Lightly raced over jumps but made a promising return at Sandown, making a big move before flattening out, and sure to benefit from this return to 2m.



One to watch

Glens Boy (Henrietta Knight) is bred to make a staying chaser and has already won point-to-points, so a novice handicap over fences might beckon after qualifying for a rating in his third novice hurdle at Wincanton last week.



Where the money's going

Binocular, the champion hurdler, is 5-6 with Totesport for the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle on Saturday, with Peddlers Cross 11-4 and Starluck 7-2.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...