Day At The Track

Elly recuperates after being knocked out

08:25 AM 06 Apr 2020 NZST
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Elly Chapple, harness racing
'I FEEL BLESSED': Tamworth reinswoman Elly Chapple convalesces at home after a serious crash in the Inverell Cup.

"It was full on. I don't remember the harness racing fall, but it was pretty strange waking up with all the pain."

That was how the 17-year-old Tamworth reinswoman Elly Chapple summed up how she felt after being involved in a horrific race fall in the Inverell Cup on March 29.

Chapple, driving the No 2 horse, was checked when the horse to her inside blundered and fell - resulting in Chapple being tipped from her gig and run over by horses.

"I remember turning into the back straight and getting a run up to the barrier with my horse, as I wanted to cross the field," she said.

Chapple has no recollection of the fall after being knocked unconscious.

"The first person I saw was Mum standing over the top of me. The track attendants - Jeff Enks and Paul Harper - were the first to get to me and they were talking to me but I don't remember [that].

"I couldn't move, and [I] do remember being lifted into the ambulance.

"I thought I had done a collarbone and broken my arm, and the ambulance guys put a neck brace on me - they prepare you for the worst.

"I feel blessed to come out of it with just a broken elbow, although I have got plenty of bruising and skin off me."

Chapple is set to celebrate 12 months in the harness racing industry as a reinswoman after opening her account at the Narrabri Easter meeting last year.

DRIVEN: Chapple is keen to resume racing. Photo: PeterMac Photography

 DRIVEN: Chapple is keen to resume racing. Photo: PeterMac Photography


"I enjoy the sport and it was always something I was going to do - I love competing and driving every week.

"Dad (Dean Chapple) was in the same race at Inverell and he was a bit shocked that I was still on the track when he came back around."

Chapple and fellow Tasmworth reinswoman Sarah Rushbrook, also injured in the accident, were conveyed to Lismore Hospital via the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

Rushbrook underwent surgery after suffering to breaks to her femur. She also suffered cracked ribs.

Chapple said: "I am so pleased that Sarah and I were in the chopper together, I was so worried. She said she remembers everything but I think it will be better for me that I don't remember.

"I knew I was bound to have a race fall one day but didn't realise how quick it happens - it was like I was going up to the gate and then I was on the track."

In her short career Chapple has driven three winners and had numerous placings.

"I think it will take me a while to get back to driving. I'm keen but I just have to get my strength back."

Chapple was transferred to Tamworth Hospital on Tuesday and operated on the following morning. She was back home on Thursday.

"I will have a slab on my elbow for two weeks and then they will put a fibreglass cast on for eight weeks.

"Everyone has been so supportive. The number of messages from different states ... it has been overwhelming but nice to have everyone's support."

For her parents, Dean and Julie, it was a mercy dash to link up with her in Lismore, with her 13-year-old brother Jack at home watching vision of the fall.

"Jack was at home but he kept it all together for us - feeding the horses at home and looking after them," Chapple said. "He was the foreman while Dad was away with me.

"And Mum held it together for all of us - she was great."

For Chapple, a year 12 student at Oxley High School, the next challenge will be the HSC.

"I have the HSC and I am left-handed - that is the elbow that is broken."

But given that most students are isolated at home due to the epidemic, it is unclear how year 12 students will be assessed at the end of the school year.

No horses were injured in the accident.

By Julie Maughan

Reprinted with permission of The Northern Daily Leader

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