June 9, 2016, Canberra Times.
Riding is "second nature" for Goulburn jockey Richie Bensley, which is why he didn't have any hesitation about returning to the job he loves despite breaking his pelvis in a fall.
It's also why he thinks Melbourne Cup-winning hoop Michelle Payne will return to the saddle once she is fit. Bensley was riding the Luke Pepper-trained Redominanced in the lead-up to Canberra's Black Opal Stakes Day in March when the horse broke a leg and fell, breaking Bensley's ribs and pelvis in the process. But he was never deterred from returning to racing and he feels Payne is in a similar situation.
Payne required surgery after a race fall and left Melbourne's Alfred Hospital on Wednesday. But she is yet to commit to a return to racing. "I haven't lost the enthusiasm to ride again, that's for sure, so keen to get back and boot some winners home," Bensley said. "It's second nature, I've been doing it that long you just hop on and go. Nothing felt different. "Pretty unsure where I'm sitting, watching from the outside, but I'd say [Payne will] ride again. "It's just an occupational hazard – when you ride a horse you're going to get hurt at some stage and sometimes it just depends how bad."
Doctors told Bensley he could be out for six months, but he returned to riding track work for Canberra trainer Nick Olive on Tuesday. He won't ride at Thoroughbred Park's eight-race meet on Friday as he slowly builds to a return to racing in about a month. Bensley is "trotting and cantering two or three" horses each morning, with the view to galloping in a fortnight. After that he'll work up to barrier trials before returning to racing. The downside of an early return to the saddle is he's back doing trackwork in the early hours of the morning just as Canberra's frosty winter kicks in. "I'm probably looking at a month from this week [before returning to racing]. I'll see how I feel and see how the body is getting close to that time," Bensley said.
"Obviously with the muscle tone dropping off the muscles are probably feeling it more now that I've started back at work. I've just got to build that back up, get my fitness up to the level where it was. But as far as the pelvis goes, it feels fine."