Jason Waddell plans to be back in raceday action for the beginning of the new season as he awaits surgery on his right leg.
Currently one of the top 10 jockeys in the country, Waddell has been off the scene since a spate of suspensions, including a couple for his ride on Vernanme in the Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) at Ellerslie on March 2.
His careless riding suspensions, covering a total of 28 days for three separate incidents, ruled him out until April 19 and with his leg surgery date set at May 27 he has opted to undergo the operation before returning to the saddle.
“I’ve got a condition called compartment syndrome and the calf muscles in my right leg swell,’’ Waddell said.
“It’s reasonably common among athletes and it affected me a fair bit when I was riding at trials, getting off one horse and straight onto another.
“It just got worse and worse and the only way to fix it is to undergo surgery.’’
Compartment syndrome is described as a painful condition that occurs when pressure within the muscles builds to dangerous levels. This pressure can decrease blood flow, which prevents nourishment and oxygen from reaching nerve and muscle cells.
Chronic compartment syndrome is most often caused by athletic exertion and without treatment it can lead to permanent muscle damage.
Waddell has had an ongoing battle to keep his weight in check and the lengthy suspension took its toll, delaying his return while awaiting a surgery date.
“During my time off we also took the kids to Fiji for 10 days,’’ Waddell said. ‘’I’d been quite busy up to the Derby and was due a break, but had planned to be riding up to this stage then have one. The suspensions changed all that.”
Compared to last season when he had 183 mounts for the entire term or the previous two seasons (119 and 293), Waddell had ridden in 345 races all within eight months.
The highlight of his 53 wins this season has been the win on Shadows Cast in the Group 1 Thorndon Mile (1600m) at Trentham, while he has three other black-type wins to his credit this term, including the Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) on Crown Prosecutor and the Group 3 Mongolian Khan Trophy (1200m) at Ellerslie on King Louis.
Waddell has been told it will require a six to eight week recovery period after the leg surgery and he said he will be doing his best to be fit to ride again early in the new season.