On Saturday, 13 May 2017 Lyle Hewitson took a bad fall from the Renate du Plessis-trained Gitano Giant in race 3, resulting in a broken collar bone and mild concussion.
Lyle joined a stellar line-up of riding talent in Port Elizabeth for the Friendly City’s weekend racing double header featuring the EC Derby and the Dahlia Plate. “In actual fact, I didn’t think I had the best card for the two days and was just going to participate, but day one went really well and I rode a winner, four seconds, a 4th and a 5th, so it was a really positive start to the weekend.”
“Saturday started with a bang. I won the first race and picked up a ride on the favourite for the main race, so it was looking like a really great day. Then the first timer I rode for Renate du Plessis broke its leg at the 450m mark and sent us both crashing to the turf. Fortunately it happened so quickly, I don’t know how or what went wrong – it just happened.” Sadly Gitano Giant could not be saved and had to be euthanised on course.
Lyle was taken to the on course medical centre for a preliminary examination and says it was pretty obvious that he had a broken left collar bone and mild concussion. “They took me to Greenacres and while I was there, Kevin Lerena popped into my mind. He’s a professional sportsman and has a great team behind him, so I gave him a call. Kevin recommended Dr Harry Papapgapiou in Johannesburg and I was lucky enough to get booked in for surgery at 1pm on Sunday. I managed to get on the first flight out of PE on Sunday and went straight to the hospital. It was very quick and professional. Kevin met us at the hospital to introduce us to the surgeon and will be helping me with the rehab as well. I am very grateful for all his help and I owe him big time.”
The surgery was performed on Sunday afternoon and Lyle has already posted his x-rays on social media. “It looks like they’ve done a really good job, so I’m really happy.” Lyle was discharged from hospital on Monday, 15 May and will be considering all options, including hyperbaric treatments to speed his recovery.
Fortunately Lyle is not in too much pain and it seems the broken bone hurt a lot less than loss of the time in the saddle. “I only started crying because of the reality that I won’t be able to ride for the next few months,” he admits.
Despite only riding for 5 months of the 2015/16 season, Lyle challenged Callan Murray strongly for the SA Champion Apprentice title, chasing him all the way to a 5 win margin. With a strong lead and only two and a half months left of the current season, Lyle was in a strong position for the title and to get injured just ahead of Champions Season is particularly disappointing.
Lyle celebrated his 100th winner for the season aboard the Alec Laird-trained Kenna on 29 April, Lyle is currently enjoying a healthy lead with a total of 103 wins for the season. His nearest rivals, Eric Ngwane and Diego De Gouveia are in joint second on 27 wins apiece.
Lyle notified all his regular stables directly after the accident and says everyone has been very supportive. “They all said that I mustn’t rush back and must rather take the time to make sure I heal properly so that it doesn’t cause me problems in the future.” Lyle also took the time to thank fellow rider Craig Zackey. “I just thought Craig Zackey deserves to be recognized for his kind gesture on Saturday where he picked up the ride on Dorset Noble in the EC Derby after I fell earlier on in the day, and turned this opportunity into a winner – he donated the winning trophy to me out of the pure goodness of his heart! Thanks for this, it really lifted my spirits and made me feel much better.” We wish Lyle a speedy recovery.