FOUR TIMES German Champion Jockey Filip Minarik has described how encouragement and support from friends and family helped him through ‘a big, black hole’ after spending four weeks in a coma following a racing fall in July. Minarik, who suffered head injuries and broke his leg and ankle in the incident at Mannheim, returned home earlier this month and had been at the centre of a Gofundme page, which raised just under €120,000 and was supported by Frankie Dettori on his Twitter page. The 45yo Czech-born jockey had last year made an instant impression in Britain, riding a winner on his first ride at the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup at Ascot, Stone Of Destiny for Andrew Balding, when he captained the European team. “Since I woke up, there was only one place I’ve wanted to be: home with my family,” the Group One winning rider said. “From the last four months I can remember only four weeks.

Before then is a big, black hole. I’ve had falls, which have sometimes been spectacular and I’ve come away uninjured, but this one appeared quite ordinary. “The doctors say my memory is coming back, but it could take up to a year. I trust them 100%. When they tell me it is normal, I believe that. “I called Freddie Tylicki, Christian Zschache and Peter Heugl to ask them about life in a wheelchair. I was so scared that I could be wheelchair bound. They told me, ‘We did it, and if that’s the case, you can do it too’.” Having endured such an accident, it is perhaps no surprise that Minarik, who picked out Sea The Moon’s victory in the 2014 Grosser Preis von Baden as his career highlight, retired from the saddle. He added: “The end was in sight, I might have ridden for another five years but not much longer. Even if I could physically ride, it would be a matter of time before fear kicks in. “Everyone was there for the Grosser Preis von Baden, including CNN and the BBC. Everyone wanted to see Sea The Moon. That was amazing.”