Injury splits successful partnership

Thoughts will be with Cambridge jockey Rogan Norvall when his favourite mount Veyron competes at Te Rapa on Saturday.

Norvall, one of the most popular members of the jockeys’ room, is in Waikato Hospital with injuries he suffered in a fall at yesterday’s Cambridge trials. An unnamed Express Duke gelding, ridden by Phillip Turner, fell in a maiden catchweight heat and Norvall’s mount, an unraced St Reims three-year-old, went over the top.

Turner escaped injury, but Norvall was taken to Waikato Hospital suffering from heavy concussion along with a broken left ankle and a broken left collarbone.

“He told me it’s the hardest he has ever fallen,” said Linda Laing, a close friend and trainer of Veyron. “He’s really depressed at missing out on Veyron, but I told him it could be a lot worse.”

Many times New Zealand racing seems to make the general headlines for all the wrong reasons, but as has been shown time and time again when sickness, injury or setbacks hit anyone within the industry racing people quickly gather in support. And this has certainly been the case with Norvall.

“It’s amazing how many texts and phone calls we have all been getting asking about Rogie,” said Laing. “Unfortunately racing gets a bagging a lot of times, but when something goes wrong there’s so much goodwill out there. It’s overwhelming.”

Norvall has been Veyron’s constant companion since the highly talented galloper first stepped out in public from the Linda Laing stable. In fact only once has he not been on the horse’s back in a race, that occasion being in Veyron’s debut at Te Aroha on October 29, 2009 when he was successful with Andrew Calder aboard.

Norvall and Veyron combined to record a memorable Group One win in last season’s Land Pride Easter Handicap at Ellerslie last April and the combination were again successful last time out (for the ninth time) in the Group III Eagle Technology Stakes on the same track.

But when Veyron chases his 10th win from 16 starts in Saturday’s White Bros Panelworks & Truck Services 1600 it will be Leith Innes in the saddle.

“The owners and I discussed possible jockeys and it got down to a short list of two and the owners had the final decision,” said Laing. “Leith will ride him on Saturday and on the proviso that everything goes all right he will be on again in the Zabeel Classic.”

Laing is thrilled with Veyron’s condition going into Saturday’s race, in which he will carry the clear topweight of 60.5kg. “He’s jumping out of his skin,” said Laing.

Laing has also got an insight into the relationship Norvall has with Veyron. “Rogie rides him in all his work, but I hopped on him the other morning and he nearly pulled by arms out,” said Laing. “I think Rogie spoils him.”