Back in the saddle and back in the winner’s circle

Mick Gray rides Attilius to victory at Young for trainer Paul Theobald prior to the horrific Tomingley fall in April. Photo: Juliet Jones.

In early April, Michael Gray was preparing to make the jump from the amateur riding scene to the professionals after getting the nod from Racing NSW and securing ongoing work.
On April 27, this all changed after Gray was involved in the horrendous Tomingley Picnic Races fall that left Michael Hackett clinging on for his life, Ricky Blewitt out for an extended period and Gray battling significant injuries and reconsidering his career in the sport. 
“I can’t remember anything about the fall, I only remember coming to in the ambulance, not knowing what happened,” he said.
“I was pretty lucky, I only suffered a broken collarbone, a fractured wrist and a fracture between my shoulder blades in my back.”
It has been a long five months but Gray is now back in the saddle and celebrated a return to racing with a win at Come by Chance Picnic Races on Saturday, with a win on Torn Lass for Michael Lunn.
This winning return wasn’t without it’s battles though with Gray physically and mentally working his way back to the track.
Gray originally returned four months after the fall when riding at Cobar Miners Race Club in August and also rode in the NSWPRA championship final at Dubbo Turf Club on September 16 but admitted he had reservations leading up to his return to racing.
“I was in two different minds whether I’d even come back at the start,” he said.
“I had my first rides back at Cobar but I probably wasn’t fit enough to be honest.”
The young hoop also suffered due to the ongoing talk after the Tomingley fall, an incident the Gray cannot for the life of himself recollect, let alone discuss or defend. 
“The rumours were the worst part about it because I still don’t know what really happened,” he said. 
“My partner and Racing NSW helped me get through all of that.”
Gray, who is now getting back into the swing of things, is grateful to be back riding and winning.
“I rode in the championship at Dubbo for Debbie Prest and Peter Kirby, who have always looked after me with rides,” he said. 
“Mick Lunn has always been good to me and to win my first race back for Mick is something I’ll always be grateful for, as I didn’t expect to get a winner so soon.”
Gray will continue on the picnic scene for the short term as he continues to regain his confidence but didn’t discount the idea of one day making it back to the professionals. 
“I will have another go at it one day but not just yet, I’m happy at the picnics for the mean time,” he said
“I just want to get back to enjoying riding and hopefully have my best season winners wise, which would be awesome.”
Gray will now turn his attention to Lockhart Picnic Races this Friday and continue on his journey to the professionals.