Brett is riding high
By MITCHELL DALE
AS Coffs Harbour apprentice jockey Brett Poulus confidently steered Grafton gelding Umatrick to a strong victory on Monday, it was hard to believe that for some time the young hoop's promising riding career was in jeopardy
It has been 278 days since Poulus was involved in a potentially fatal fall at the Gold Coast in which he suffered two cracked neck vertebrae, a fracture at the base of his skull and swelling on the brain.
But Poulus, who celebrated his 24th birthday on March 2, is getting back to his old self.
He's cracking jokes, bouncing around and exuding the same confidence that made him one of NSW Country's leading apprentices before the fall.
Most importantly for Poulus, he is back race riding and enjoying it more than ever.
Booting home seven winners in a little over a month will do that for you.
On Monday, Poulus recorded his second double since returning to the saddle with winners on Umatrick and then Carsons Road in the next race.
"As soon as I rode my first winner (at Grafton on January 29), the confidence came straight back," he said.
"It was a non-TAB meeting at Grafton and there was hardly anyone there, but it still felt great.
"There were about five or six people there max (laughs), but my girlfriend, Tara, was there so it was pretty special.
"Once I passed the post, it felt like I had won a big race.
"I got a little bit emotional but then I switched on and told myself to be a bit of a man."
He admits it took a while for the old confidence to return.
"For the first 10 race rides, I was pretty nervous," he said.
"I would be thinking, 'whoa, you're too close here, Brett'.
"Instead of giving myself one length, I was giving one and a half.
"But now I feel like the same rider I used to be, although I probably have about 10 per cent to go."
During his rehabilitation, Poulus refused to talk about a future move to the city, which was looming before the fall.
But now he is talking about it again, even plucking a line straight from a shampoo commercial to underline his intentions.
"I don't know when, but it will happen," he says.
"Ken (Lantry, Poulus' master) will know what is best for me, whether it's to go to Sydney or Brisbane.
"Ken has had a lot of faith in me and really stood by me.
"I also want to thank all the trainers and people who had faith in me, they've been sensational and without them I would not have been able to do what I have."
Lantry believes Poulus will come back a better rider than before, but says he is a way off his best at the moment.
"He still has a little way to go, but he is getting there pretty quickly," Lantry said.
"I have no doubt he will get back to where he was before the fall."