Take a jockey away from riding and it’s never easy for him, especially when you’re an apprentice, new to the game and just starting to touch your straps.
Luke Campbell hasn’t raced since March, but the natural lightweight jockey is preparing for a comeback after taking part in the Lark Hill trials on Monday.
It’s a positive step forward for Campbell after what was thought to be a minor knee injury extended to a frustrating two months on the sidelines.
Campbell rode Wunderkind to the track, ironically enough the same horse that gave the 19-year-old his first city win at Ascot on March 9.
It capped two bittersweet days for Campbell after picking up his maiden victory at York, before making it a memorable day with a brace.
Campbell, who had dreamed of becoming a jockey since the age of five, said his knee injury caused him quite a bit of pain.
“At the time they told me it was just a bruise, but I was in excruciating pain for about a week afterwards,” Campbell told The Races WA.
“I did an MRI and it showed I broke the edge of my kneecap, suffered ligament damage and tore a bit of muscle in my leg.
“I had a small concussion after the clog scraped my head and knocked me out.
“I also used crutches for about three to four weeks afterwards.”
Despite Campbell’s list of injuries, it did not dampen his enthusiasm for riding, on the contrary, it reaffirmed his love of the sport while away.
Campbell, under contract to Hall of Famer Neville Parnham, gave up an air conditioning and refrigeration engineering apprenticeship to pursue his ambition of becoming a jockey.
He said a forced layoff was premature, but only made him more hungry for success.
“I got injured on a Thursday and had a full book of rides at Mount Barker on Friday and four at Kalgoorlie on Saturday,” Campbell said.
“I think three or four winners came out of those, so I was bummed to see that, but that’s what it is.
“In racing you have more downs than ups, but for me to ride those three winners in a week like I did, get a little bit good, that’s why you do it.”
Campbell said he was working with jockeys trainer John Claite to improve his fitness in preparation for his return.
“I’ll do another round of testing on Monday at Belmont, then I’ll do some trail riding the following Saturday,” Campbell said.
“Physically my knee feels really good and it’s just a matter of fitness.
“But I missed it and it’s good to be back galloping them on the grass.”