AFTER a horrifying fall in St Moritz, jockey George Baker’s life was turned upside down.
Just five months after winning his first Classic and three months after becoming a dad, Baker thought he might never walk again.
The shocking accident which left Baker with a serious head injury happened in February 2017 when his horse fell and was fatally injured on a race run on a frozen lake.
Baker, now 37, was airlifted back to the UK from Switzerland a week after the fall and it was then the journey really started.
He spent weeks struggling to understand what had happened as he suffered post-traumatic amnesia.
But thanks to the support of family, friends and the racing industry, Baker fought to tell the tale.
His riding days may be behind him, but he’s gone from strength-to-strength as a TV pundit and recently qualified jockey coach.
He told his dramatic story to the new Racing Welfare podcast, ‘On Track, Off Course.’
Wife Nicola was a constant helping hand, with weighing room colleagues and the racing world lending their support.
But it was far from plain sailing and Baker revealed it even crossed his mind to jump out of a hospitality box when attending Royal Ascot.
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Baker said: “Me and Nicola had just had our first child, Bella, and I hadn’t been out much.
“Trainer Jamie Osborne called me and said did I want to come to St Moritz next weekend? I just thought ‘I’d do anything for a night out!’
“And that’s the reason I went! I obviously had a really bad fall over there and I can laugh about it now, it’s taken a while to get to this point, but I had a really bad head injury.
“I had to learn to walk again, I was theoretically a 34-year-old baby and did some very strange things in hospital.
“I’m really lucky as I don’t remember anything, but as I had post traumatic amnesia, anything that came into my head came out of my mouth.
“That is not a good thing when you’ve got no filter and you have attractive nurses washing you!”
Baker was taken care of in London's Wellington Hospital with the BHA’s Dr Jerry Hill a regular visitor, as well as wife Nicola and close friends from the racing industry.
Baker added: “I used to call it the hotel. They were so good with me and rebuilt me so that I was able to go back home.
“But I soon knew I was never going to be riding again. It’s a hard thing to get into, but I just wouldn’t have been able to sustain another blow to the head.
“I was crying in the car when I was driving to Lambourn to hear the news. That realisation that it was over, I’m glad I realised it before I was told.”
It was not just a physical challenge for Baker to get over. The mental side of things were just as toiling.
He added: “When I was back on my feet, I was in one of my friends boxes at Royal Ascot, up on the first level, and I just thought to myself, I wonder if I could jump off this balcony?
“I wasn’t thinking I’m going to try and kill myself, but it wasn’t normal.
“I went and saw someone the next week and they said it’s my brain playing tricks with me.
“But unless someone tells you that, and I really trusted him, and it was okay, I got over it.”
Subscribe to The On Track, Off Course wherever you get your podcasts including, Sound Cloud, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast or via the Racing Welfare website at www.racingwelfare.co.uk/podcast.
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