Jenny - Clean

DARREN BEADMAN is on a walking stick and may never ride again.

For the first time revealing the true extent of the injuries he suffered in a barrier trial crash last month, the hall-of-famer told CRAIG YOUNG of the SYDNEY SUN HERALD that the simple act of riding a racehorse again is of little concern.

The 46-year-old jockey is not even allowed to drive a car. He has been inundated with well-wishes from family, racing friends and strangers.

The decorated horseman has a brain injury. The man who has handled thoroughbred greats such as Saintly, Octagonal, Super Impose, Lonhro and many more has entered a pale place. ''I was a highly disciplined person, now everything is grey, not black and white,'' he said from Hong Kong where his riding career may end.

Whether this gazetted horseman rides again is not of concern but in typical Beadman style there are people to thank. No sign of ''why me?'' but a ''heartfelt thank you'' for a racing industry, and those outside that have inquired about his health.

''Everyone has been really good, the support from everyone has been fantastic,'' Beadman said. ''I can't fault it, I've had people ringing up from everywhere. As I've said, I'm just glad I've had my day in the sun. Whatever I get from here on is just cream. I've had a great career. Some people haven't had the opportunity to have that, that's the way I look at it.''

What a career. Melbourne Cups, Golden Slippers, a Cox Plate, Doncasters, Epsoms and a heap more. Enough major race trophies to earn him a place in Australian racing's Hall Of Fame.

Will there be any more triumphs for the guy that has won races in Europe, Hong Kong, the homeland and is regarded as one of the all-time greats?

''Just slow, steady, you know,'' Beadman said. ''I'm out of hospital now, been at home about a week, it has been good. Sometimes you are good, sometimes you are bad. I don't know what is going to happen, it [riding again] is really up in the air at the moment.

''Look at me, you'd say 'nothing is wrong with the bloke', but I know what is going on in my body, it is a closed head injury.''

The brain injury the result of barrier trial crash on February 17. Just another set of mundane heats at Hong Kong's Sha Tin racecourse. The type jockeys turn up for in the hope of finding their next thoroughbred winner or even perhaps a champion.

''It seemed like a simple fall, I was knocked out for like two hours,'' Beadman said. ''I've had race falls, been involved in them, I've been conscious all the way through. Sometimes I've been knocked out, it feels like you're going in slow motion, everything slows down. This one I don't even remember going down.

''They actually sent me home from hospital a couple of days later, but the room at home kept spinning. I'd get up and go to the toilet and I'd fall over. They put me back in hospital straight away.''

Specialists have already picked up a fractured right cheekbone but the second time round the lights of hope dimmed. The diagnosis was that Beadman had a diffuse axonal injury, which affects balance, speech and memory.

''It is a traumatic brain injury,'' Beadman said. ''What's happened is, through the fall, there is acceleration and deceleration, the inside of your brain it is like gelatin and it compresses against the skull. When you have that shearing, shaking, it tears the neurons and nerves. Like telephone wires, I actually tore nerves in my brain. My balance is up to shit, I get vertigo, it is not very good, not very good at all.''

Beadman has three sessions of physio a week and is seeing a psychologist. Trying to ''concentrate is doing my head in'' and he adds ''it feels like I'm half-pissed all the time''.

''I don't want to say I'm not riding again, I don't know what I'm doing,'' Beadman said. ''They don't really know how long it will take because it is nerve-related. Six months, they hope for an improvement. It is a brain injury not a limb. When you're talking brain it is a whole different ball game.''

STORY SOURCE: SYDNEY SUN HERALD - FAIRFAX MEDIA

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