Apprentice jockey Sam Polo’s long road to recovery
THE road to recovery will be long and slow for injured Grafton jockey Samantha Polo, who suffered a heavy fall at a race meet in Armidale last Tuesday.
The first-year apprentice was piloting Our Girl Shyanne in race five when she and the horse fell as they approached the 600m mark of the 1100m handicap.
Her eye socket was fractured in at least five places, and she also sustained a subdural hematoma in the accident.
After a stint in Armidale Hospital, Polo was airlifted to Prince of Wales Hospital's Neurological Ward last Friday, suffering post traumatic amnesia and complaining of pain in her left shoulder and neck.
Speaking from the hospital yesterday, her mum Lee Polo said her daughter was slowly making progress, surrounded by her siblings and friends.
It is understood her short term memory, which has been affected by the hematoma and swelling on the brain, was slowly returning - a good sign her brain injury will resolve itself.
Scans over the next few days are expected to give doctors a clearer picture.
"Her speech is much clearer and cognitive function is definitely a whole lot better," she said.
"She doesn't remember the fall itself, but she remembers everything before and things she was going to be doing this week.
"We've been trying to make her laugh, saying that was the best faceplant we've seen in our life."
Ms Polo said she was also waiting for an x-ray to determine whether she had fractured ribs or her collarbone.
"She's still in a lot of pain but at least she's getting there," she said.
Ms Polo also passed on her sincere thanks to all those who had made phone calls and sent well wishes.
"The whole racing industry from stewards, trainers, jockeys and the jockey assocation... have been great," she said.
"(Melbourne Cup winning jockey) Blake Shinn popped in last night.
"Sam's had a lot of support, so it's been really encouraging."
Grafton trainer Scott Henley said he missed his "little mate."
"She worked at Randwick for six or seven years before she came up here so they all know her there. She's in the right place."
Polo moved to Henley's stables in Grafton three months ago to the day of her fall, but the pair have known each other since she first started riding a pony at Gai Waterhouse's stables, where he worked at the time.
"She was improving every time she went out to ride, and just keeps improving," he said.
"Her dedication has never been in question, nor her desire to become a successful jockey."