Adam Wedge is keeping his fingers crossed as he aims for a potential injury comeback aboard Secret Reprieve in the Randox Grand National.
Wedge was triumphant on the Evan Williams-trained seven-year-old in the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow in January, triumphing by three lengths despite his girth snapping during the race and his saddle slipping considerably.
The victory came after Wedge demonstrated his physical and mental durability when taking the ride on the horse following two heavy falls earlier on the same card.
Wedge’s toughness was put to the test again when he parted company with Hoi Polloi in a novice hurdle at Newbury in March, after which he gathered himself off the floor and returned to action for four rides the following afternoon back at the same track.
A subsequent scan revealed a fracture to his T12 vertebra, however, forcing him to take a break from riding which would include forfeiting his rides at the Cheltenham Festival.
Since the fracture was discovered, Wedge has begun the rehabilitation process – using the Injury Jockeys Fund facility in Lambourn, Oaksey House, and also enduring sessions in an ice chamber to aid his recovery.
“I’m getting there slowly,” he said.
“I’m getting into Oaksey House and getting on well with all of the team there and the therapy.
“Fingers crossed, as long as an X-ray looks good in a couple of weeks’ time, I’ll be working towards being back for Aintree.”
Although the aim is to return to the saddle for the Grand National, Wedge is aware that the nature of the injury means he cannot rush his recovery.
“It’s very much the plan, but I’ve got to go with what the specialists say,” he added.
“It’s a back injury at the end of the day – it’s not a collar bone or anything like that, (so) everything’s got to be 110 per cent right with it.”
Glamorgan-based Williams had a number of Cheltenham Festival runners which Wedge would have ordinarily partnered, the most prolific being Christmas Hurdle winner Silver Streak – who finished sixth behind Honeysuckle in the Unibet Champion Hurdle.
Another likely partner would have been Rebecca Curtis’ Lisnagar Oscar, aboard whom Wedge triumphed in last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle.
The eight-year-old fell when attempting the defend his title, but Wedge conceded it was still a struggle to watch the whole meeting from the sidelines.
“It’s very hard,” he said.
“But at the end of the day I’m not the first person who’s going to miss out at Cheltenham – and I certainly won’t be the last.
“It is very hard but it’s great to see the horses running, even though I can’t be riding.”
Sweetening the lay-off is the prospect of reuniting with Secret Reprieve in the National, who is a leading fancy after his impressive Chepstow success but still as yet not guaranteed to make the cut for the final field, should connections opt to run.
“It’s definitely a ride to look forward to,” Wedge said.
“He’s a horse that seems to be improving, and I think Evan’s done a fantastic job in getting him in the right sort of form to go there.”
Wedge first experienced the unique Aintree course when partnering Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Viking Blond in 2013. That horse was pulled up, and Wedge then parted company with Keith Dalgleish’s One In A Milan when tackling the race again the next year.
He could well be due a change in fortunes, because two further efforts have not resulted in completions either, – with Buywise unseating him in 2018 and Joe Farrell pulled up in 2019.
“I’ve ridden in it a couple of times and I haven’t got around yet,” he said.
“It’s definitely a race I want to win – it’d be right at the top of the list I’d say, for me at least.”