Dye vows to return better than ever

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 June, 2006, 12:00am

'I'm only 39 and my best years in the saddle are still ahead'

Shane Dye has vowed to not only make it back into the saddle, but warned his best years as a jockey are still ahead of him.

The 39-year-old, who has attracted world-wide attention in the wake of his horrific fall at Sha Tin last Sunday, may be tied to a hospital bed by a tangle of tubes and wires but his eyes still flare with that famous Dye determination.

Almost arrogantly, he waves away the possibility of an enforced retirement, or the thought a fall of this magnitude could make him lose his nerve and reconsider his riding future, even though he will be sidelined until the end of September at the earliest.

'I don't think that way,' Dye said in his first interview since the accident, and the emergency brain surgery that followed on Sunday night. 'When you are riding in a race, you are not thinking about the consequences of a fall or getting hurt. If I did, I wouldn't ride.

'What has happened in this fall won't change me. I'm a jockey, that's what I do. I'm only 39 and my best years in the saddle are still ahead of me. I don't want to be a trainer, never have.'

As for the stewards' inquiry into the cause of the fall, Dye will be unable to help. 'I don't remember anything about it,' he says. 'But once I get a look at the video, I'll be able to piece together what happened and I may remember something then. But at the moment, nothing.'

Dye remains in the high dependency unit of the neurosurgery department at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin, having been transferred from the intensive care unit on Wednesday morning. He will soon be moved to a private ward as soon as surgeon Wai Poon gives him the all clear.

He groaned when Danny Wong Hoi-tung, honorary clinical assistant professor at the neurosurgery unit, confirmed previous advice he may have to remain in hospital for a month. 'I'll go mad if I'm in here for a month,' he remonstrated.

To the medical layman, a month would be a good result, looking at Dye's condition. It's even hard to picture total recovery for this battered and bruised body, though the improvement he's made in four days has already been remarkable.

Dye suffered serious head injuries in the fall from Ambitious Marju, and lost consciousness in the ambulance on the way to hospital due to bleeding in the brain. He now has a 12cm wound at the top of his roughly-shaved skull where doctors operated on Sunday night to relieve the pressure on his brain - 'they inserted a screw into my brain,' he says with pride.

Dye also has a stress fracture in his back, a partially collapsed lung, abrasions and bruises all over his body. He is on a morphine drip to relieve the pain, a saline drip and has to use an oxygen mask to help him breathe.

'He can't eat any solid foods, drops in and out of sleep every few minutes and regularly wakes coughing, spitting and vomiting blood. The supervising nurse has a desk five metres away, with direct line of vision to his bed, and a doctor is just seconds away in case of an emergency.

Despite the effect of the pain-killing medication, Dye still aches. 'My head hurts, my back hurts, my guts hurt, my chest hurts,' he says, then adding quickly, 'but I'll be okay.'