The jockey, on-course for his best ever season, rides the Michael Dods-trained sprinter in the Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday – the race’s second favourite
Having hit rock bottom, Connor Beasley is savouring every moment at the top of his profession.
Six years ago doctors feared he might not walk again after a shocking fall at Wolverhampton.
But now the 27-year-old is on course for his best ever season, headlined by the exploits of his Virgin Bet Ayr Gold Cup mount Commanche Falls.
“If he wins it would be the icing on the cake,” said Beasley.
“It’s a race every Flat jockey wants on their CV.”
Delivering Commanche Falls with pinpoint accuracy in the Stewards’ Cup, Beasley’s patient approach handsomely paid off.
Unlike the sprint race, the rider’s path to success was navigated at a much slower pace, following a serious accident in summer 2015.
His season came to an abrupt halt on the all-weather after he had just turned professional.
Beasley’s horse Cumbrianna clipped heels and sadly suffered a fatal fall, which catapulted him into the sand.
Trampled by the pack, he was airlifted to the neurological unit at Royal Stoke University Hospital.
Six plates were inserted into the left hand side of his skull, which took ten hours on the operating table.
In intensive care for several days after surgery, Beasley was also battling a fractured spine, a bleed on the brain and neck damage.
A brace would hold the upper half of his body upright for the next three months.
“There was always a fear I might have been paralysed,” said Beasley.
“Thankfully I was able to get to my feet after several weeks. I went to Jack Berry House and every test pushed me forward.
“From then there was never a doubt in my mind I would ride a horse again.”
After an eight-month arduous recovery, with his family helping to dress him, Beasley planned his comeback.
He chose to race first at Dunstall Park, completing the healing process from the toughest time in his life.
“That was where I wanted to get the ball rolling again,” he said.
“It was a funny feeling going back, as I couldn’t remember anything about the fall. By starting back there, my recovery had come full circle.”
After a short wait for his return winner, Beasley raced to 60 successes – one less than his seasonal best – and a tally he is likely to beat this year.
Link-ups with top trainers Michael Dods and David Barron in the north, assisted by his agent Gareth Owen, are cherished.
Beasley has shelved plans for spending a fifth winter in Dubai, with the aim of reaching a century of winners in 2022.
And with a horse on his side like Commanche Falls, an eight-time winner from just 16 races, the future is bright.
“Every task we give him, he keeps delivering,” said Beasley.
“There has been a real buzz in the Dods yard about him. The Stewards’ Cup win was fantastic and the quicker they go on Saturday the better chance he has.
“He has really prospered this season and it’s brilliant to be riding him.”