‘Breaks my heart’: Steph’s tough call on favourite horse

Stephanie Thornton is making a speedy recovery from her fall but has already made a “heartbreaking” decision on her Victory Stakes ride this Saturday.

Stephanie Thornton admits it has torn at her heartstrings opting not to ride The Odyssey on Saturday but says with the Queensland winter carnival looming she must think with her head and not her heart.

Thornton, recovering from a hand injury after being dumped in a dramatic fall at Doomben last Saturday, said she will be fit to ride on Saturday at Eagle Farm but she won’t be riding The Odyssey in the Group 2 Victory Stakes.

Thornton has won six races on The Odyssey – more than on any other horse she has ridden during her career – and the Kelly Schweida-trained sprinter provided a major highlight for the young jockey when winning a $1 million race on Gold Coast Magic Millions day in January.

Schweida says The Odyssey, most recently seen when finishing second last in the Group 1 The Galaxy at Rosehill, will most likely take his place in the Victory Stakes on Saturday.

However with the trainer not 100 per cent locking in the sprinter, Thornton decided to go in a different direction and ride Rob Heathcote-trained Emerald Kingdom who will resume in the Victory.

Thornton has ridden Emerald Kingdom before and also trialled him at his most recent trial at Deagon last week.

“It will break my heart not being on The Odyssey, but sometimes you have got to think with your head and not with your heart in this game,” Thornton said.

“Kelly wasn’t 100 per cent sure what he was doing with The Odyssey and I couldn’t afford to knock back a good ride in case The Odyssey didn’t run.

“Sometimes in racing you are left between a rock and a hard place and this was one of those occasions.”

It’s been a dramatic week for Thornton who is recovering after being taken to hospital following her fall from Simply Fly who started veering and bucking soon after the start of the Mick Dittman Plate last Saturday.

There are several theories as to why the Rex Lipp-trained galloper was on his worst behaviour, including that he may have been startled by a bird flying over the track.

Thornton, who expects to resume riding trackwork on Thursday, isn’t sure but one thing the jockey does know is she feels a whole lot better now than she did on raceday.

“Sunday and Monday were a little bit rough, I very sore and stiff but I woke up a lot better today,” Thornton said.

“This horse is quirky and I don’t often know what goes through his head.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he saw the bird that flew out in front of us but it also wouldn’t surprise me if he was looking at all the other horses coming across and wanted to duck out at that.

“I do know that he did a good job of getting rid me.

“Once he jammed on the brakes I knew I was gone and I thought this is going to hurt.

“I ended up doing a couple of flips but probably straight away I was able to sit up and I didn’t think it was anything too serious.

“I pulled my (riding) glove off my hand and everything started to swell up but the swelling has gone right down now.’’

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