There were times during Teo Nugent’s recovery from a broken neck that he thought he would never ride again.
There was also a period where the 25-year-old thought at best his return to riding would be in 2024.
Instead, Nugent will be back in action for a third Melbourne Cup for trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace as they prepare his mount Interpretation.
He is hoping he can continue the trend of a good result in the Melbourne Cup after he finished fourth in 2021 on Floating Artist and third last year on High Emocean.
Nugent sustained a fracture to his C1 vertebrae when he fell from the mare Florescent Star at Moonee Valley in the Listed Abell Stakes on March 18.
“Earlier this year I broke my neck and it took seven months to come back. At times I never thought I’d return to race riding or even would have to wait until next year,” Nugent said. “This is the hardest time of the year to be back in action. I’m so grateful for the opportunity.”
Nugent resumed riding from his broken neck on October 6 and feels he is hitting form again.
“My first city winner back was Ashford Street at Moonee Valley on Cox Plate Day and since then I’ve ridden a couple of winners.”
Nugent said, being a lightweight jockey, he had hoped to pick up a ride in the Melbourne Cup.
Nugent got on the front foot with Ciaron Maher and Interpretation’s owners after his Bendigo Cup win, which secured him a start in the Melbourne Cup.
“As soon as Interpretation won the Bendigo Cup sent Ciaron a text and he said, no worries, thank you, I’ll talk to you soon. I was pretty confident after that.”
“I was able to talk to John O’Neil and Ozzie Kheir as well after that. I’d done a bit of work on the horse and I know him quite well, which held me in good stead. I’m really looking forward to Tuesday now.”
Nugent said he hadn’t been overawed riding in a Melbourne Cup.
Nugent pointed out that last year High Emocean also won the Bendigo Cup before she finished third in the Melbourne Cup. In 2021 Floating Artist was narrowly beaten in the Moonee Valley Cup before he finished fourth.
“Interpretation’s in good form like those horses and we’ll try and repeat the process.”