Champion jockey Danielle Johnson is looking forward to checking out of hospital this week and faces a lengthy period on the sidelines after a fall on New Year’s Day at Ellerslie following the breakdown of pin-up galloper Gold Watch.
Prepared by 90-year-old Cliff Goss, Gold Watch was shooting for his seventh win in succession when favourite for the Gr.2 Rich Hill Mile (1600m).
But when the handsome chestnut faltered in the straight, Johnson was flung to the ground, with the popular galloper later humanely euthanised following the tragic incident that tugged at the heart strings of all racing fans.
Johnson was transferred to Auckland hospital and has undergone surgery for a broken leg.
“The year has started out pretty badly but it’s only a broken leg,” Johnson told Andrew Bensley on SEN Track.
“My heart goes out to Cliff Goss and the team that had Gold Watch. He was the first thing on my mind after I had fallen. It’s just so awful the story around it, it makes my voice tremble just talking about it.
“I’ve got one more night here in hospital. I had my operation on Sunday morning and speaking with my doctor, he said the x-ray has come up really well and he’s happy with what he’s done.
“I’ve got a rod down my tibia and my fibula has a plate down the outside of it and a screw right through the fibula. I’ve got multiple breaks but he’s happy with the result of the operation.
“I knew as soon as I hit the ground that I’d broken my leg, I didn’t know what part exactly, but I told the ambulance staff as they got to me that I’d definitely broken my leg.
“Weirdly I’m not sore anywhere else and normally after a fall your muscles are pretty sore but it’s just my leg, so I’m pretty thankful.”
Johnson’s partner is star trainer Jamie Richards, who has just accepted an offer to train in Hong Kong from next season, with the 30-year-old hoop set to join Richards in the bustling city purely in the role of partner at this stage.
While the injury has put paid to another premiership tilt this season, Johnson is unsure whether she will be back in riding action in New Zealand this term before relocating.
“To tell the honest truth I’ve never been that keen on winter racing. I’m not too sure, I have just bought a dairy farm with my Dad so I might need the finances,” Johnson said.
“The doctor said to me I’ll be out for three to four months. I’ve got six to eight weeks without any pressure on my foot, then we’ll go from there. It’ll be rehab after that I suppose.”
Johnson said a timeline has yet to be locked in as to when she will relocate to Hong Kong.
“Jamie will have to head up to Hong Kong before May because that’s when they want him there and he has to quarantine for three weeks,” she said.
“We’ll have a good chat about it after I get out of hospital, we’ve got a fair bit to organise back here. Whether I go up straight away or whether I wait a few weeks, I’m not too sure but we’ll cross that bridge soon.”
Despite putting her riding career on-hold with the move to Hong Kong, the effervescent Johnson will play a crucial role in helping Richards lure owners to the stable which starts from scratch.
“I am looking forward to it, it is going to be a new challenge,” Johnson said.
“With Jamie being so young and being invited up there it is just amazing and I’m so happy for him. I’m glad that I’m going to be able to go up there and support him and I think we’ll make a great team up there and make a great life for ourselves.”