Day At The Track

Shannon on road to speedy recovery

10:00 AM 26 Mar 2020 NZDT
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Battered and bruised, but keen to get back.  Shannon O’Sullivan on her way home from hospital in Melbourne,Harness racing
Battered and bruised, but keen to get back. Shannon O’Sullivan on her way home from hospital in Melbourne

Exciting junior harness racing driver Shannon O'Sullivan is resting at home after being flipped out of the cart in spectacular fashion at Ouyen last Sunday.

"I'm counting my lucky stars as I did get out of the whole incident pretty well - I'll be back as soon as I can get medical clearances," O'Sullivan said.

The 20-year-old from Heathcote suffered severe facial lacerations and bruising to her back and neck after being thrown high in the air near the finish line in the final event on the program.

O'Sullivan was driving bay gelding Better B Nice for MIldura trainer Scott Garraway when she clipped the wheel of another runner while desperately searching for a gap.

"The horse was travelling enormous and I remember spotting a bit of a run. It then closed a split second later, but the horse was just wanting to go," she said.

"When I saw what might unfold I knew I was in trouble. I got tossed into the air when we fell and then the cart crashed down onto me, although the horse sort of took the brunt of that. I was unconscious on the track for about 40 seconds.

"My chin was hurting pretty bad, as well as a few spots in my neck and back, but I've been told that I was more concerned about the horse. Anyway, he's having a few days off, but is okay according to Scott."

Shannon O’Sullivan in her dad Jim’s racing colors

The youngster was transferred from Ouyen to Mildura Base Hospital and said she was overwhelmed by the support, along with messages and telephone calls from well-wishers.

"I was fortunate that Scott looked after me, along with Maddy Tormey (a younger sister of fellow reinswoman Ellen Tormey). Maddy is a Mildura nurse and came to the hospital on her day off-I was pretty scared, but she calmed me down, looked after my welfare and explained everything," O'Sullivan said.

"To be honest, I have never been to hospital before, so it was a bit overwhelming without mum and dad there."

O'Sullivan, daughter of legendary horseman Jim and his wife Terresa, has been in sensational form this season with a career-best 19 wins, including an enjoyable Elmore Cup victory, as well as 32 placings.

In her three seasons as a driver, she has improved immensely. Starting in 2017/18, O'Sullivan had four wins and 32 placings, and followed this up in the next season with 17 wins and 32 placings (footnote: the 32 placings aren't a misprint, something of a coincidence!).

"I've formed an awesome association with Greg and Jess Sugars with five wins from not many more drives and I've had a few more for Susan Gloury, who's been using me on her horse Monash and other trainers, including my dad, have also been giving me opportunities," she said.

After spending Sunday night at Mildura Base Hospital, O'Sullivan was flow to Melbourne the following day and is now recovering at home.

"The concern was that I'd maybe cut a nerve on my chin. The laceration was through to the bone, and while there's bruising and damage, fortunately the nerve didn't get cut," she said.

"I got plastic surgery done to the bottom of my chin and the doctors are confident it'll all heal up without any noticeable marks. I was really worried that I would end up with something permanent.

"I have to go to Melbourne next Monday for a check-up on the stitches and in the meantime, I just have to keep it all nice and clean. I'm only able to eat soft foods, but thankfully it's nowhere near as painful as I thought it would be."


Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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