Ryan Bradley hungry to make long-awaited return from injury

Ryan Bradley, pictured here after winning the 2022 Cooma Cup, is close to returning to race-riding after back-to-back shoulder injuries. Image: Bradley Photos.

Back-to-back shoulder surgeries haven’t stopped apprentice jockey Ryan Bradley, who’s nearing a long-awaited return to race riding.

Bradley last rode at the Sapphire Coast in January of last year, so he hasn’t been legged aboard for a race in close to 13 months, but that will change shortly. 

Indentured to Rob Potter in Canberra, Bradley will look to ride in trials as early as this week before returning to the races by the end of the month. 
“I’ve got the green light for trials, and I’ve been doing Wednesday jump-outs at Canberra, which has been really beneficial,” Bradley told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“I’ll spin a few of them around at the trials before I get to the races and hopefully kick some goals when I get back.

“I’d like to be riding in the next three weeks; that has been a little goal of mine.

“It’s been more than 12 months, so it’s been a long time coming, and it will just be good to get back out there and back in the rooms with the boys.”

The young hoop has been through the wars, with both of his shoulders requiring surgery. 

“I last rode at the Bega Cup carnival, and the Monday after that, I was cantering one around, the iron came undone, and I hit the deck,” Bradley said. 

“I have always had a bit of an issue with my left shoulder; I put my arm out when I fell, and it popped out again, so it got to the point where I needed to get it fixed. 

“The following week, I was booked in to get surgery, and once he cut me open, it was a lot worse than anticipated, so it took me eight to nine months to get over it. 

“It ended up being a full shoulder reconstruction, and there are five screws, a metal marble, grafts, and for only being 19, it was a big operation.” 

With a return in sight late last year, Bradley injured his right shoulder, requiring another surgery. 

“I was back riding work for a few weeks, and one reared up and over, and I still had hold, and it ripped my right arm, and as soon as that happened, I knew what was wrong,” he said. 

“That was my right shoulder, and it happened in September, but I wasn’t out as long as it was keyhole surgery, and I had two hooks put in. 

“I was out for five months, and I’ve been back and riding work for a month.”

With his partner and fellow apprentice jockey, Coriah Keatings, enjoying a lot of success of late and his mates winning races all over the place, Bradley has had itchy feet the entire time he’s been on the sideline.

“I was pretty determined to get back,” he said.

“Seeing a lot of other apprentices kick goals made me hungry for success, and at times, it was frustrating. 

“Even going to the races with Coriah, and with her success, which she deserves, it’s made me that little bit more motivated to get back out there.”

Having a supportive family behind him has made all the difference, with the four-kilogram claimer always looking at the glass half full.

“My Mum, Dad, and Brother have been great, and Coriah, too,” Bradley said. 

“I would not have been able to do it without them, and even with my physio, I’ve been a pain in the backside with shoulder recos (reconstructions), but he’s been massive and helped me get back.”

The young jockey hit the ground running in late 2022, and while he is only three wins into his career, he owns the unique statistic of all his wins being Country Cups. 

His maiden victory was on the Joe Cleary-trained Hard Core in the 2022 Mollymook Cup at Nowra.

In December 2022, while indentured to Barbara Joseph, Paul, and Matt Jones, the then 19-year-old won back-to-back features on Nieces and Nephews.

Firstly, the pair won the Cooma Cup before taking out the Fred Cooper Cup at Goulburn.

The time away from race riding was tough, but the 20-year-old enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the industry. 

“I wasn’t at rock bottom or anything, but I wouldn’t be where I am mentally without my boss, Rob Potter,” he said. 

“I went to the races with him, and I’ve been learning the training side of things and what goes on behind the scenes.

“I was going mad at home, so I got up early, went to trackwork, and just got out of there with the horses, and I learned a lot.

“There is a lot more behind the scenes than I thought, and it was a massive eye-opener, to be honest.

“I quite enjoyed it and took on a lot, but I’m hungry to get back in the saddle, that’s for sure.”

In terms of making a return, Bradley has the support of trainers in and around Canberra and Queanbeyan. 

“Like anything, it never happens overnight, and that’s why it helped going to the races and still seeing everyone in the industry,” Bradley said. 

“I used to say, ‘I’ll be back’, and with Rob as my boss, he’s been an enormous help. He’s letting me ride a bit of trackwork for Nick Olive at Queanbeyan and Gratz Vella at Canberra, and I’m already getting some support. 

“Plus, I’ve just received the Carbine Club Scholarship, which is a good reward to come back to and another little step in the right direction.”

It’s set to be an exciting return for Bradley, and to book him, trainers can contact his manager, Ryan Robertson, on 0402 245 422.