Corey Brown has confirmed his riding career is over after receiving the news he didn’t want to admit but had been dreading for some time.
Corey Brown has confirmed his riding career is over after receiving the news he didn’t want to admit but had been dreading for some time.

Spinal surgery ends champion jockey’s brilliant career

Champion jockey Corey Brown was expecting the bad news - but it didn't make it any easier for him.

"Corey, you will never ride again,'' was the blunt medical advice.

Brown met with renowned orthopaedic surgeon Dr Andrew Cree earlier this week where the jockey's future was determined.

Nearly two years after Brown's shocking fall in the Queensland Derby at Eagle Farm - and after months of waiting for Work Cover approval - the jockey is preparing to undergo the spinal surgery he needs and hopes will finally relieve him of crippling back pain.

But the operation comes at a price. Brown, one of the most naturally gifted jockeys of the modern era, has confirmed his celebrated riding career is over.

"There has been plenty of tears,'' Brown told The Daily Telegraph.

"But deep down, I've had a sense for a few months it was over, I just didn't want to admit it.''

Brown, 44, feels he is still in the prime of his career but the delicate operation he will undergo next Wednesday means he can never ride again.

He suffered multiple injuries when his mount Lord Arthur crashed to the turn in the home straight of the 2019 Queensland Derby including a fractured sternum and punctured lung.

 

Corey Brown kisses the Melbourne Cup after winning on Rekindling in 2017. Picture: AAP
Corey Brown kisses the Melbourne Cup after winning on Rekindling in 2017. Picture: AAP

But Brown's most serious and ongoing issue is the damage to his spinal column.

He shattered the T7 and severely damaged the T4 vertebrae and concedes he is lucky not to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Brown had back surgery soon after the fall where rods were inserted to stabilise the spine but his injuries didn't heal as doctors had hoped.

"The rods were supposed to come out after 10 months but my spine wasn't mending,'' Brown explained.

"Then in September last year, Dr Cree told me I needed to have spinal fusion surgery from the T2 to the T10 (vertebrae) and once this was done, it would be too risky for me to ever ride again.

"I've always thought there as a glimmer of hope I could ride again but I guess it has been going pear-shaped for months.''

With the operation scheduled for next Wednesday, Brown has finally had to accept he can never ride again.

Brown is unsure what he will do with the rest of his professional career.

He is still aligned with long-term sponsor, Lexus, he is in-demand as a guest speaker at corporate functions, and there are plenty of media opportunities.

 

Corey Brown says Exceed And Excel was the best horse he rode. Picture: Jenny Duggan
Corey Brown says Exceed And Excel was the best horse he rode. Picture: Jenny Duggan

But Brown won't be lost to the racing industry as he is keen to pursue a mentoring role for apprentices.

"I've ridden 49 Group 1 winners and it doesn't sit well with me, I would have loved to hit the 50 mark,'' Brown said.

"I wanted to do more as a jockey. Two months before the fall, I won the (ATC Australian) Derby on Angel Of Truth, I was riding well and I honestly felt I had another 10 years in me.

"Look at Bossy (Glen Boss), he's a few years older than me and he is flying, and I felt like I was getting better with age.

"But I have come to the realisation that it is over now. I've sat down with (wife) Kylie and we have discussed it and accepted that I won't ride again.

"I'm grateful because I've had a great career and I just thank God that I'm allowed to have this operation next week because the pain I have been going through for two years has been unbearable.''

 

 

COREY'S CELEBRATED CAREER

Wins: 2466

Group 1 wins: 49

Career highlights:

Melbourne Cup - 2: Rekindling (2017), Shocking (2009)

ATC Australian Derby - 2: Angel Of Truth (2019), Eremein (2005)

Sydney Cup - 2: Polarisation (2017), Mr Prudent (2001)

George Ryder Stakes - 2: Rangirangdoo (2011), Lansighting (2001)

Epsom Handicap - Clangalang (2003)

 

■ Premier Sydney jockey 2001-02 with 106 wins: "To beat Daz (Darren Beadman) for the premiership was one of the best challenges - we still talk about it.''

■ Riding four winners at the 2003 Epsom Handicap meeting including Group 1 wins in the Epsom Handicap (Clangalang), Spring Champion Stakes (Niello) and Flight Stakes (Unearthly)

■ Winning three Group 1 races including the Melbourne Cup during the 2009 Flemington carnival with the Melbourne Cup (Shocking), Victoria Derby (Monaco Consul) and Cantala Stakes (All American),

 

Best horses:

Exceed And Excel: "I think he was the best horse I ever rode, we never saw him the best of him.''

More Joyous: "She was a freak."

Others: Shocking, Apache Cat, Eremein, Melito

 

 

Originally published as Spinal surgery ends champion jockey's brilliant career

Corey Brown and the damage to his spine from his horror fall in the 2019 Queensland Derby.
Corey Brown and the damage to his spine from his horror fall in the 2019 Queensland Derby.

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