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?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you looking to take your ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Exciting career prospect for ...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935