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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 19:34 GMT
Tizzard eyes National fairytale
Jump jockey Joe Tizzard
Tizzard always believed he would return to action
Jockey Joe Tizzard has set his sights on Grand National glory just months after being told he might never walk again.

Tizzard returned to action in January, 10 months after a horrific career-threatening injury.

The 23-year-old fractured and dislocated two vertebrae in a fall at Hereford, just days after riding See More Business to third place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

A surgeon told the jockey it was '50-50' he would walk again, and highly unlikely he could return to race riding.

Everybody has got to have a bit of luck - and I got away with it

Joe Tizzard

Similar accidents left most patients paraplegic, Tizzard learned.

"He was honest, and it was a bit scary at the time. I don't think it really sunk in, everything had happened so fast," the jockey told BBC Sport.

But the rider always believed he could bounce back and began on the road to recovery after doctors inserted two six-inch metal bars in his back to support his spine.

Shotgun Willy
Shotgun Willy beat First Gold at Newbury in 2001

Now he is riding winners once again, and is relishing the prospect of being on board the classy Shotgun Willy in the Martell Grand National at Aintree in April.

"I love the race and if I could ever win it, that would be a dream come true for me - that's what jockeys live for," said Tizzard, who has competed five times in the Aintree marathon.

His National mount boasts decent form, including a defeat of top French chaser First Gold, and Tizzard believes the stretching four-and-a-half mile trip will suit.

Tizzard has been reunited with trainer Paul Nicholls, who has maintained his faith in the youngster throughout.

"I never had any doubt - he was always determined to come back," said Nicholls.

Tizzard set a record for a champion conditional jockey when riding 91 winners in a season four years ago.

It would complete a remarkable comeback if one of his winners this season was in the big one at Aintree on Saturday 5 April.

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See also:

06 Jan 03 | Horse Racing
10 Feb 01 | Other Sports
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