Injured jockey Darren Beadman has admitted that a return to the saddle 'isn't looking good' as champion trainer John Moore conceded for the first time he is looking at alternatives to the Australian as his stable's retained jockey next season.
Beadman, 46, has not ridden since a barrier trial fall at Sha Tin on February 17 when Lucky Together broke down hopelessly underneath the champion rider. The crash left him with head trauma affecting his balance, speech and brain functions. He said he was 'blessed to be alive' after the gravity of the fall sunk in.
Beadman (pictured) has been in Sydney 'to get some peace and quiet, watch some football and have time with friends and family'. But he returns this weekend and is booked for another MRI scan at the end of this month to determine what improvement his injuries have made, if any.
'It's really happening very slowly. My balance is no better and I'm having a problem with multi-tasking.
'I'm fine doing one thing at a time but if I'm trying to do more, or if I get distracted, it's like my brain loses its way,' Beadman said yesterday.
'Not riding again isn't the end of the world but it isn't looking good. And my neurosurgeon says that another head injury and I would be in strife.'
Beadman has served as Moore's stable jockey for the past five terms in a hugely successful pairing that has raked in 174 race wins at a strike rate close to 15 per cent, nine Group One victories and the trainer's first championship in almost two decades. Moore's request for a retained rider for next season was granted at the licensing committee meeting on Monday and, when no jockey was named, it was assumed the trainer was buying time and had postponed a decision until it became clear when, or whether, Beadman would be fit to resume.
'Darren has been offered the job again next season but it is in the back of my mind that I have to be considering other options too, given that Darren's rate of recovery from his injuries is so slow,' Moore said yesterday.
Moore refused to elaborate on which jockeys he was considering, but he is an avid fan of New Zealander James McDonald. McDonald won the Champions Mile on Xtension and then finished second on Zaidan in the Singapore Airlines International Cup for the Moore yard last month and the young Kiwi probably would be Moore's first alternative choice.
Beadman even indicated yesterday that returning to riding in the pressure cooker atmosphere of Hong Kong racing may not be his preferred option if he returns to racing.
'The scene there is so intense and I would be so much under the microscope that it probably would be better if I rode again in Australia and proved myself again first,' Beadman said.