"Hey, you can't do that girl."
David Butcher's taunt from across the Cambridge stable yard was made only in jest but there was a note of caution there, too, for fellow driver Nicky Chilcott.
Butcher made a surprise comeback at the Cambridge workouts yesterday following seven months on the sideline after pulling his pectoral muscle off the bone in a training accident.
And just seconds after he drove a winner, pint-sized Geoff Small -trained filly Pinup Pony, he was half teasing, half offering advice to Cambridge's latest injury victim as she helped to ungear her runner-up Leroy Brogden.
Chilcott, arm in a sling, faces an even longer period on the sideline after reconstructive surgery to her right shoulder, a recent injury having aggravated a long-term issue.
And after an operation in which two of her three ligaments were reattached, she is now going through the same frustrations that Butcher had to overcome.
"The surgeon said it would be 12 to 15 months before I can drive again, with a minimum of 12 months," said Chilcott who became the first woman to drive 500 winners in New Zealand in 2012.
"It's never a good time to be out but I've got some young horses in the barn I do like, and it's going to be difficult sitting on the sideline watching them.
"I just hope they turn out as good as I think, and that will lessen the blow."
Butcher said Chilcott had to be patient. "It took me ages to realise that, because it's in your nature to want to do everything, but you've got to wait."
Butcher hadn't planned on driving at the workouts - he got back in the cart at home only last week - but after being happy with the way he handled his galloping pacemaker yesterday, he made a few hurried calls and got on three horses, winning with his second.
"I've still got it," Butcher said. "I just wanted to beat the boy (junior driver son Ben). But I was pretty happy.
"My strength isn't where it needs to be - my muscles were tired after driving Davey Kaa's trotter (Georgies Smile) because he tugged a bit in the warm-up but I just need to get back into the rhythm."
Butcher has been on a fairly intensive rehab programme, alternating running, swimming and doing weights.
"I'm OK when my hands are forward but I need to work on my back muscles. I'll see how I go in the next couple of weeks. But I need to drive at workouts because I'm not working too many of my own at the moment."
Butcher is hoping to make a comeback to race-night driving next month.
Courtesy of Barry Lichter and the Sunday Star Times