Lachlan Scorse hopes to be back on a horse early next year as he makes an encouraging recovery from brain injuries sustained in a horror fall at Taree five weeks ago.
However, the 19-year-old Newcastle apprentice realises the physical and mental scars may make a return to race riding impossible.
Either way, Scorse is grateful to be on the road to recovery and to those who saved him.
Scorse fell on October 29 when his mount, Balzando, broke down mid-race, causing a chain reaction that brought down four jockeys.
With bleeding on the brain, Scorse was the most seriously injured and was taken to John Hunter Hospital by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and placed in an induced coma. He has since made a steady recovery from the damage, which included a stroke, and is now doing rehabilitation at the Hunter Brain Injury Service at Bar Beach on weekdays and coming home on weekends.
He was able to meet and thank those who helped him, including crewman Glen Ramplin, on Saturday at Newcastle Jockey Club's annual fundraiser for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
"You can't thank them enough until you meet them," Scorse said. "It was just a good day to catch up and thank for them for what they did, because you know the risks going into the sport, and you never really want to meet them, but having their service there, you can't be more grateful for it."
Scorse, his family and medical staff have been thrilled by his recovery and he was determined to get back in the saddle.
"Even from just last week, I was able to walk with assistance, and now I can pretty much walk around by myself," said Scorse, who had been race riding less than four months. "My left arm is about 60 per cent but it's improving every day.
"I would like to be out mid-January. They have got me down for a month, which is the minimum time, but they said it could it be six, eight weeks. It depends how my recovery goes.
"Ideally, I'd like to start getting back into work at the start of the new year. I'll go out to a friend's property to get on a horse first once I'm cleared to leave the hospital. Then I'll just do light duties around the stables. I'm going to ride the stable's pony for a bit, and then we'll just go from there.
"If I can't ride, just physically can't or ... if I go somewhere now sometimes I get some flashbacks of memories, and they are a bit worried. They are going to take me to Taree one day, or just ride a horse, to make sure I don't get any flashbacks.
"If that happens, or I can't ride for some reason, I wouldn't mind going into the media side of the racing. That's always been something for after racing."
The focus, though, is riding again and Scorse, a grandson of late group 1-winning hoop Alan Scorse, has taken encouragement from messages and visits by past and present champion jockeys.
"I understand it was a freak accident, it was no one's fault and I think that's why I'm keen to get back to riding," he said.
"That and just the competitiveness of racing, it's being missed.
"To have a fall like that so early in my career, it's just bad luck, but it's just another obstacle to overcome.
"I had a video from Damien Oliver, that was great, and I had a good conversation with Michael Rodd. Corey Brown came for a visit, which was really good.
"They have experienced the rehab side of things so they kind of know what you are going through, so it was good to speak to people like that who have had falls and have come through the other side."
He said doctors have put his rapid recovery down to "being young, fit and determined".
"At the brain place now, they just want to get you back to like you were before the fall," he said.
"Even just little things like cooking, washing, driving, they said might be more difficult now but we are here to work on it.
"We do five hours of rehab a day, which can be a walk down to the beach for a swim, then lunch, then an activity with another doctor, then buying groceries and cooking dinner. Just everyday stuff.
"I can remember everything an hour before the accident and everything from the last week and a half.
"I'm doing a lot of brain exercises, brain training.
"I had a stroke, that's why my left side is a bit weaker. The bleed was mainly on the right side of the brain and my brain was quite swollen up."
Courtney Van Der Werf (fractured clavicle), Jeff Penza (broken ribs, punctured lung, concussion) and Jeff Kehoe were the other jockeys who fell at Taree.