Boost for Maija Vance

Acutus, ridden by Cambridge jockey Jonathan Riddell, winning at $15 on debut at Avondale yesterday.

Acutus became the second former Hong Kong horse to give injured Cambridge jockey Maija Vance a boost when winning at Avondale yesterday.

Thoughts turned to Vance in the Otara Spinal Unit as Jonathan Riddell guided Actus, a son of Sepoy, to a debut win in the Supporters Club 1200.

Vance shares in the ownership of Actus with her parents, Jenny and Bob Vance, with the latter doing the training of the Australian-bred at Ardmore Lodge.

Just on a month ago Born Dragon, a winner of three races in Hong Kong, made a winning debut from the Vance stable when also scoring at Avondale. And like Acutus, Born Dragon is also part-owned by Maija.

Bob Vance was on hand for Acutus’ win and after the race was able to give everyone an update on his daughter’s condition.

“She’s now got some movement in her bad leg and has managed to shuffle a couple of steps,” he said.

“Things are looking a lot better, but it’s a long road for her.”

Vance was seriously injured when Zedsational crashed at the second-last fence at Rotorua on September 16 and after 10 days in Middlemore Hospital she was transferred to the Otara Spinal Unit.

She fractured two vertebrae and another three vertebrae were out of line, requiring a four-hour operation to have rods and a metal plate inserted. She also suffered two punctured lungs, several broken ribs, facial injuries including six broken teeth, and she almost bit her tongue off during the smash.

Among the support she has received is a “gofundme” website page set up by her friend Grace Willoughby.

“She wants to thank everyone who has donated to the fund,” said her father.

Meanwhile, the Vances look set to enjoy more success with Acutus and Born Dragon.

Acutus, bought by Hong Kong interests for A$45,000 at the 2016 Sydney Easter Yearling Sale, won yesterday’s race with a bit of authority after being settled back in the field and held up early in the run home.

“He came back from Hong Kong with a little problem and being able to put him out in a paddock each day has made a difference to him,” said Bob Vance. “He’s had two jump-outs, but had shown nothing on the track.”

Maija Vance has also been buoyed by the progress of stablemate Howbowdat, who finished third fresh-up at Ellerslie on Melbourne Cup day.

She won three races in succession on him last summer and also rode him in his maiden win, at Avondale in March last year.