Injured jockey wakes from coma
The partner of an apprentice jockey left in an induced coma following a serious race fall last week said the sight of her regaining consciousness was the greatest moment of his life.
Matt Cropp, who is also a successful jockey, has maintained a bedside vigil next to his girlfriend Ashley Frye, alongside her parents, since the accident eight days ago.
Frye, 18, was allowed to wake of her own accord on Thursday and the news came as a welcome relief to the tight-knit racing community, who had been waiting on tenterhooks for the news.
"I don't think I can actually describe the feelings that emerged when she woke up," Cropp said.
"It was the greatest moment of my life ... there were just so many emotions. When she opened her eyes and smiled at me it was just unreal.
"We knew it was going to happen but actually watching her open her eyes and look at you was incredible."
Frye was seriously injured when her ride, Zuleika, suffered a severe rupture to her aorta and crashed to the turf. Rushed to Ashburton Hospital still unconscious, Frye was then shifted to the intensive care unit at Christchurch Hospital where she was placed in an induced coma. She also suffered a broken collarbone and fractured vertebrae in the incident.
Cropp said not knowing how serious things were initially was scary but he always had faith that Frye would pull through.
"I've said all along she's a fighter. And she has shown that we are out of the woods but still have a long way to go yet.
"She's not talking but yesterday [Friday] she wrote on a piece of paper telling me to talk to her, so to see her communicating was great.
"Now we just have to wait and let her do things at her own speed. They shifted her out of the intensive care unit to the wards this morning so that's a good sign too."
Support was continuing to flood in from all around the world.
"It's been incredible to hear from all these different people.
"It just goes to show how the racing community can rally around when it needs to."
Sunday Star Times