Matt Palmer puts injury behind him in pursuit of Country Cup success

Matt Palmer is back riding after a nasty fall at Quirindi late last year. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Five months ago, Matthew Palmer had to be airlifted to hospital after a sickening race fall at Quirindi on November 17. 

Riding the Sue Grills-trained My Diamond Boy, Palmer got tipped off with 300 metres to go, and he’s lucky to be alive, let alone back riding again.  

“To be fair, I don’t remember much of the incident,” Palmer said. 

“I remember arriving at the racecourse, and that’s about it, but looking at the replay, it’s pretty obvious the horse has blindered and dislodged me to the outside. 

“I can’t shed much light on it, but I am very lucky to be alive.”

It was a scary moment for all involved, with Palmer spending a stint in the hospital before rehabbing various injuries. 

“I was in the helicopter, and they tell me I was out for 16 minutes, and I had two seizures back-to-back, and I remember the ride and arriving at John Hunter Hospital, and my partner Casey Waddell and brother (Michael Palmer) arriving later on that night.

“There were no bleeds on the brain, but I had a very bad concussion, and I was in the hospital for four days; and after that, I had relatively common concussion symptoms such as nausea, headaches, vagueness, and that lasted a couple of weeks, but it did correct itself.

“After that, it was about getting over my left ankle, left knee, and right wrist.”

An ongoing wrist complaint was the reason it took Palmer almost five months to return to racing.

“I tore several ligaments, and I had it injected and drained a couple of times, and that improved it, but I got to a point where it plateaued, and I was still having some issues,” Palmer said. 

“I was at the point where I went back to riding work to see if it would correct itself or if they would elect to reoperate on it, and once I started riding work, it did correct itself, and that’s why I decided to come back when I did.”

Palmer has been involved in significant falls during his nearly 500-win career, including a nasty incident at Eagle Farm in 2009 and another fall at the Gold Coast in 2020.

“This fall, and my last fall at the Gold Coast, have both involved head injuries, and to be quite fair, I thought this could be my last one,” Palmer said. 

“It’s worked out that I’m still able to ride, and I’m just very thankful and grateful that one, I’m alive, and two, I can make a return.” 

Since returning, Palmer has been based in Tamworth and is riding work for Cody Morgan

That relationship paid dividends when he successfully returned to racing at Tamworth on April 4. 

At his first race ride after falling at Quirindi nearly five months prior, he guided the Cody Morgan-trained Seductive ($5.50) to victory in the 1200m Maiden Handicap. 

“I’ve got Cody Morgan to thank for that,” Palmer said. 

“I’ve been going into his barn and doing some work, and he’s been fantastic, and he threw me on a good one first up and showed a bit of faith in me.”

Morgan has continued to support Palmer, and at today’s Tamworth Cup meeting, the 36-year-old will jump aboard Seductive ($5.50) in the $50,000 Jardel Cup (1200m), Walkin’onwater ($41) in the Showcase Maiden plate (1400m), and Ligulate ($51) in the $200,00 Tamworth Cup, along with the Stephen Jones-trained Divine Di Dora ($71) in the Romantic Dream two-year-old plate (1000m),

“It’s great to have three for him on Tamworth Cup day and a decent ride in the cup,” Palmer said. 

“Ligulate is a good horse and take nothing away from the field; it’s a really sharp field, but a horse like Ligulate; he’s proven himself, and if he does happen to get back to his previous form on his home track, he’s the right horse to be riding.”

Far away from the bright lights of the Tamworth Cup meeting on Friday, Palmer is off to Merriwa on Saturday, and he will team up with a good mate and Gunnedah trainer, Gavin Groth. 

“I’m going to Merriwa because I went there last year and loved it; it was the best day ever, and it’s the only racecourse with the encloser on the inside of the track,” Palmer said. 

“I knew Grothy had a few in, and he’s a good mate of mine, and we went fishing a bit when I was off, so I got in touch with him to see if he needed a jockey, and it was an easy decision to go.

“It’s a good day, a no-pressure day, and everyone there is having a good time, and sometimes it’s nice to go the races and relax.”

Palmer will take three rides for Groth, jumping on Sunglare in the Maiden Handicap (1200m), Oreo Twist in the Class Two Handicap (1350m), and Annie’s Street in the Merriwa Cup (1350m) while also riding the David Atkins-trained Halliday Road in the Benchmark 45 Handicap (1000m).

“She (Annie’s Street) is well placed, and to be fair, anything can happen on those up and down tracks,” Palmer said. 

“Some horses suit it, and some don’t, and it is one of those days, and we’ll find out how they go on Saturday.”

It’s a big two days of North West racing.

For Tamworth’s fields, click here

For Merriwa’s fields, click here.