Leading jockey Paul Nolan won his 1,000th career race July 21 aboard Hurricane Bernie in the $45,000 Canterbury Park Lassie Stakes on the same track on which he earned his first career victory in 1990.
Hurricane Bernie is owned by L.T.B. and trained by Bernard Flint. The Lassie, the seventh race on the card, was contested on the Canterbury main track at 5 1/2 furlongs.
The list of injuries Nolan has sustained throughout his 18-year career reads like a tragic novel. Major setbacks include a broken back and punctured lung in 1995, a broken shoulder in 1996, a broken leg in 2004, and a broken vertebrate in his neck in 2005.
"A rider never wants an injury to end his career," Nolan said.
So he continued to work hard and returned to riding following each recovery. His perseverance paid off on Saturday when he attained a career milestone. "My first win was fantastic," Nolan said. "The 1,000th is really special because I never thought I would even get one."
The 2005 injury, which happened in a spill at Canterbury Park, may have ended many riders' careers, but not Nolan's. "The doctors might have told me not to ride again. I don't remember. I never listen to them anyway," Nolan said.
He returned to the saddle at Canterbury in 2006 with a new determination. "I was going so well before the injury. I was so close (to the Canterbury riding title) that I wanted to have another go at it," the 45 year-old Englishman said. In 2006 he rode in 95 more races than any other rider in the Canterbury jockey colony and won the riding title, his first ever, with 72 wins.
Nolan secured another victory in the final race on Saturday evening and currently leads all other riders this season at Canterbury with 49 wins from 241 starts.
"After everything I've been through it's great to get the 1,000th victory and even better to get it in a stakes race. I owe all of my success to the horsemen; without them I would not be where I am today."