It was very much an up-and-down day for popular northern jockey Brian Harding at Kelso on Saturday, Nicky Richards’ rider tasting glory on Grand National hope Skippers Brig before taking a tumble an hour later and sustaining a fractured low arm, writes Elliot Slater.
Harding had been in the wars last year and had broken the same arm, an injury that required the insertion of a steel plate to hold the bone together. This latest injury is not reported to be of the same magnitude but it will require a sling and will force Harding to watch on from the sidelines for at least a few weeks. Assuming the injury heals without any hitches, Harding’s agent Richard Hale assured reporters that he will be back in time to partner Skippers Brig at Aintree on April 9 in the John Smith’s Grand National.
The day had gone very well for the now veteran jumps jockey up until the point that Moufatango fell at the second from home in the concluding Voice of Rugby Handicap Hurdle at the Borders track. The five year-old was on the heels of the leaders when coming down, giving Harding a heavy fall.
Earlier in the afternoon everything had been rosy as Skippers Brig had come back to his best and got the better of a good battle with Grand National ante-post market principal Ballabriggs in the feature Premier chase, coming with a sustained run to wear down Donald McCain’s horse who was looking to complete a six-timer. Bookmakers reacted by cutting Skippers Brig from as big as 100/1 with some firms down to as short as 25/1 in places, although 40/1 is still available. Anyone who had placed a Grand National bet on the horse prior to that race would have been very pleased by his performance.
All being well Harding will be fully recovered and able to renew his acquaintance with the Nicky Richards-trained stayer in good time to give it all they’ve got in the ‘world’s greatest steeplechase’.