Swinburn starts to show improvement

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The Independent Online
Walter Swinburn remains under intensive care in Hong Kong's Prince of Wales Hospital, where an accumulation of fluid and blood in the jockey's lungs is giving doctors most cause for concern. The 34-year-old rider is showing signs of improvement and has regained consciousness but remains under sedation.

Swinburn broke his left shoulder and suffered multiple fractures of his ribs and collarbone when his mount, Liffey River, threw him through the running rail in a race at Sha Tin on Sunday. Surgeons have performed a minor operation to drain fluid from Swinburn's skull to prevent a build up of pressure.

Swinburn's father, Wally, has arrived in Hong Kong and sent a bulletin on his son's condition to the jockey's agent, Graham Green. "Wally has said that it did not look a pretty sight when he saw his son," Green said. "Walter has been sedated so he has not been conscious throughout the time his father has been at his bedside.

"Walter is not out of the woods yet but doctors are a lot happier with his condition than they have been."

Another British-based jockey, Brian Taylor, was killed in a fall at Sha Tin in 1984, while in the same year the Frenchman Philippe Paquet sustained injuries which ended his career.

Nevertheless, Philip Johnston, the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club's director of racing, defended the course: "We have had our fair share of falls but Swinburn's fall was nothing to do with the track. The horse just took off and swerved right, straight through the rail."

The question now is how much of this year's Flat season on turf, and how many Classics, will pass before Swinburn returns to the saddle.