• Posted: Thursday, 10th January 2019
  • Author: Carl Evans
  • Photo: Carl Evans

Catch up on the most recent P2P Focus that appeared in last weeks Racing Post...

Harriet Tucker, who in March became one of the least-experienced riders to land a Cheltenham Festival race, makes a comeback from injury at Larkhill on Sunday.

Tucker, 23, had ridden just once under Rules when lining up in the St James's Place Foxhunter Chase, but belied her inexperience to win on the Paul Nicholls-trained Pacha Du Polder. The success was gained despite Tucker's shoulder dislocating at the final fence, and while she worked it back into position – and rode twice more the following week – surgery was needed to rebuild the socket.

She says: "I had an operation in which they took bone from my shoulder and used it to become part of the socket from which the joint dislocated. I was told it might not work, but the ligaments were so badly stretched that if I took a fall on the shoulder I might lose the use of my arm.

"When I woke up the surgeon said the operation had been a success, and I said 'Great, I can ride Pacha again in the Foxhunter'. I came back to work [for Nicholls] in November after having six months off, during which I had a lot of physio and spent two weeks at Oaksey House [the IJF rehabilitation centre]."

Tucker led the Fuller's novice women riders' title last season, but the shoulder problem ended that goal. Now she is back as a senior rider, with a win on her CV that many outstanding amateurs have failed to achieve, and looking forward to a spin in Larkhill's Skinner's Ladies' Open race on the Rose Loxton-trained Monsieur Gibraltar.

Of that horse, Tucker says: "He's a legend, who takes every fence in his own stride. I've been dying for this moment, and couldn't wish for a better ride."

Pacha Du Polder has given three different women riders memorable spins in the Foxhunter, carrying Victoria Pendleton into fifth in 2016, winning under Bryony Frost a year later and then scoring again under Tucker last season. He is now a 12-year-old whose attempt to win for a third time could well be his swansong.

Tucker says: "Meg Nicholls has been hunting him, and he enjoys that. I should think he will have one prep race and then go to Cheltenham."