Legged Jockey Darrell Chapman
In the early 1970's Darrell
Chapman was being hailed as one of the best apprentice jockeys to
come out of the Northern Rivers district of New South Wales, having
been in the saddle for just 12 months and already notching up more
than 90 winners.
Fate dealt him a rather
cruel blow in 1973 when he was severely injured in a motor bike accident
when he swerved to avoid a dog and subsequently lost control and crushed
his left leg. After numerous operations and two years in rehab using
crutches, the decision was finally made that his left leg could not
be saved and it was amputated below the knee.
Now a logically thinking
person would quickly come to the conclusion that his riding career
would be over but that thought never crept in to Darrell's mind. He
had an artificial leg fitted and returned to riding track work.
After months of training
rides and unbelievable courage, Chapman finally trialled before the
stewards of the Northern NSW Racing Association and was again granted
a full jockey's licence.
He resumed riding in
races on November 18, 1979 at the Macleay River Turf Club's meeting
at the Kempsey race course and his second ride back was on the handy
Count Alard, favourite for the race and trained by his former master
Peter Millard in an Intermediate Handicap over 1400 metres.
He made no mistakes.
Count Alard won handsomely by 4 lengths to the cheers of the crowd,
many of whom had to wipe away a small tear at the the end of the race.
The immense courage he
showed in simply getting back was not enough however to stave off
every jockeys' nightmare of rising weight, and despite having some
success in the following 12 months, he hung up the riding gear for
good about a year afterwards. When you think of the adversity he overcame,
what more was there to prove?
Darrell tried his hand
at training for a while but sadly ended up drifting away from the
Last heard of, he was
living in Kempsey area in 2011.
A one legged jockey?
You betcha. And probably the only one in Australia ever.
(Thanks to NSW race
caller Dick Hilliard for bringing us up to date in 2011 with this
story. Dick said he remembered the Count Alard race very well! )
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