Chelsea Burdan is closing in on a return to race day riding from a new base following an extended time on the side-line due to injury.
The promising apprentice’s career has been on hold for more than a year following complications after she suffered a broken collarbone in a fall at Waverley in December, 2020.
“It took forever to have the plate put in, being at a public hospital, and then I finally got the plate in and it took forever to heal,” the 21-year-old said.
“It finally did heal and in July I got the plate taken out and then I broke it again. It wasn’t mending again properly so I had to wait and now they are overlapping each other so it’s finally in place.”
Burdan is champing at the bit to resume her riding career, having transferred her apprenticeship from Te Akau to the Cambridge training duo of Shaune Ritchie and Colm Murray.
“It’s been extremely frustrating, but I’m ready to go again now. I’m going to ride at the trials next Monday at Rotorua and then look at having my first race day start the following Saturday at Te Rapa,” she said.
“I just felt that I needed a change, I had been at Te Akau for seven years all up and I had a great time. They were really good to me and were very supportive, but I thought it was time to do something different.”
Burdan rode 10 winners in her first season during the 2018-19 term and built on that momentum to post 31 winners the following season, including hat-tricks at Te Rapa and Otaki, and a further 18 last year before she suffered her collarbone injury.
During her time with the powerful Te Akau operation, she won the 2019-20 Linda Jones Trophy for Most Outstanding Female Apprentice, presented by the Northern Apprentice Jockey Academy Awards on Monday in Rotorua.
Her first season efforts were also rewarded with the Most Promising Apprentice Jockey Award.
Burdan hasn’t been idle though in her months away from racing and diversified to learn a new skill set.
“I have found a few things to fill my time in and raised 100 calves and recently put them through the sales. I changed things up a bit to keep myself busy,” she said.
Burdan won’t put any pressure on herself and is prepared to take small steps when she returns to the saddle on race day.
“I just want to get back into the swing of things firstly and then probably set myself a few goals. I would like to get my first stakes winner,” she said.
New employer Ritchie believes Burdan will prove herself to be a valuable asset to his stable.
“She’s done the bulk of her apprenticeship through Te Akau and they have put the polish on her so we’re looking to get her involved again and kids of her talent are few and far between,” he said.
“We can ill afford to have somebody of the ability of Chelsea to not be out there riding.
“We have 50 in work and Cambridge is obviously a big centre and there are a lot of opportunities for her to break into some of the local stables and ride a bit of work.
“I would expect someone with her 2kg claim to be pretty popular, her talent is not in question.”