Day At The Track

Herlihy fall could cost Jewels tilt

08:06 AM 14 May 2018 NZST
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Tony Herlihy,Harness racing
Tony Herlihy

A rare racetrack injury dripping in deja vu could cost champion horseman Tony Herlihy his shot at harness racing's last major meeting of the season, the Harness Jewels.

Herlihy, the most successful harness racing driver in New Zealand history, spent Friday night in hospital after breaking four ribs, one of them in two places, in a race fall at Alexandra Park.

The fall looked innocent enough, with a rival outside Herlihy checked into his horse C K Spur, who fell sideways and Herlihy was dislodged from the sulky landing on his side.

C K Spur would eventually be all right, but because he was prone on the track for a few minutes the race was abandoned by stewards in the middle stages and no re-run.

For Herlihy the incident was eerily almost identical to the other most serous race smash he has had in his career — 23 years ago.

He was thrown from the cart when driving subsequent Auckland Cup winner Sharp And Telford in a Sires' Stakes heat on October 13, 1995 at he same position of the Alexandra Park track.

"You wouldn't believe it, that was almost the exact same spot I came off Sharp And Telford all those years ago and broke the same ribs," said Herlihy.

"They might take a little longer to heal now though as I am a bit older.

"Back then it took me two weeks to be back driving, the doctors are telling me this time it could be six weeks and they might be right."

That would mean missing the Harness Jewels at Cambridge on June 2, where Herlihy's most favoured drive would be high class four-year-old Star Galleria.

"I am not saying that is certain but I'm pretty sore at the moment.

"I've been lucky in my carer because I have only had a couple of bad smashes but for them to be in almost exactly the same place is hard to believe."

Co-trainer Josh Dickie said C K Spur has a minor laceration on a leg but will be fine.

Michael Guerin

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