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Tegan Harrison set for low-key return to the races

IMG-7322.JPGBy Jordan Gerrans

After a stop-start last six years in the saddle, Gold Coast hoop Tegan Harrison is ready for a bit of luck into 2022 and beyond.

The 32-year-old has had three separate injury lay-offs in recent years and is on the verge of another comeback this weekend, starting at the Sunshine Coast on Friday evening before heading to Gatton on Saturday afternoon.

The statistics show just how much race riding the popular hoop has missed of late.

Between the 2012-13 and 2016-17 racing seasons, Harrison took over 750 rides in five straight campaigns – with a high of 875 in 2015-16.

Since the 2016-17 season, the former leading apprentice has only gone past 600 rides in a season once and is yet to get off the mark in 2021-22.

After a number of serious injuries, a broken leg is the latest concern that has made the Group 2-winning hoop miss doing what she loves.

She has not ridden on race day since early March of last year.

“I have had a fair bit of time on the sidelines over the last six years and hopefully I can be done with that now,” Harrison said.

“It is much more fun being out there riding.

“I feel like this weekend is more about me getting out there again and doing my job and if I can get a winner, that would be a bonus.”

Harrison has taken her time with her comeback on this occasion, originally thinking she would be back at the races in September of last year when she returned to track work and trials.

But her surgeon was keen to have the plate removed from her leg that was broken in December, which would require surgery.

She was not due to make her return until January 31, but with a few gallopers she rides in the mornings at Aquis Park going around in suitable races, Harrison is back on light duties, taking two rides across three meetings between Friday and Sunday.

Tegan Harrison Next Racing

“They are nice rides for me to kick-off on and that is why we pushed for a fraction earlier of a comeback,” Harrison said.

“I had plenty of groundwork before coming into January post the surgery.

“After getting the plate removed, it definitely paid off riding that work beforehand because I feel like I have eased back into it a lot quicker and easier this time around.

“I was happy to be patient and wait for the surgery, had I have race rode back then it would have been stop-start, whereas the way I have done it, I can just treat it as normal now.”

Harrison jokes that she thought she would fly under the radar making her comeback at Gatton on Saturday but without a Gold Coast and Toowoomba meeting this weekend, the Lockyer Valley Turf Club race day has greater significance than it usually would.

When February of 2022 does commence, the senior jockey expects to ride a normal load going forward.

When she suffered the broken leg at Eagle Farm last year, Harrison had only recently returned from a nasty fall aboard the Stuart Kendrick-trained Nineonone, resulting in fractures to vertebrae, two ribs and her sternum.

“Given that I have had a couple of comebacks now, I know what is in store for me and I know it is not easy to kick back off,” she said.

“I am prepared for that; I will ease back into it and see where it takes me.

“Funnily enough this recovery from a broken leg has taken longer than my last injury, just because of the nature of it all.”