THE Grand National-winning jockey Ryan Mania returned from injury yesterday and came through his first ride unscathed.
The Scot made his comeback on the opening day of the Scottish Grand National meeting at Ayr on the Sandy Thomson-trained Signalman, a 28-1 shot for the Play Golf At Close House Handicap Hurdle.
The grey took up the running three flights from home, but eventually faded to finish fourth.
Less than 24 hours after partnering 66-1 shot Auroras Encore to a memorable success in the Grand National two weeks ago, Mania had to be airlifted to hospital after suffering a heavy fall at Hexham.
Despite sustaining a fractured vertebra, as well as soft-tissue and ligament damage to his neck, Mania was out of hospital just a couple of days later and was given the all-clear by doctors earlier this week to return to the saddle.
Yesterday. Mania, from Galashiels, said: “That was great. I didn’t feel any pain, and I couldn’t have had a better ride back.
“It’s been great to get back so soon and hopefully it’s all systems go now. The main thing is I feel OK and I’m not in any pain,” the Borderer added.
The jockey is set to renew his association with Auroras Encore in today’s Coral Scottish Grand National as the 11-year-old aims to become the first horse since the legendary Red Rum in 1974 to complete the rarely attempted National double.
About 3,000 Galashiels residents turned out when the 23-year-old jockey returned home after winning the Grand National earlier this month.
Mania had spent the previous two nights in Newcastle’s Victoria Hospital after the fall at Hexham the day after his victory at Aintree.
An MRI scan on his back and neck revealed only minor injuries and he was allowed home to Galashiels, where the homecoming parade had been organised.