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One 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 sport.

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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