Alice Springs trainer Rene Taylor recovering from back surgery

Alice Springs trainer Rene Taylor (right) enjoying a day at the races at Pioneer Park with her late grandmother Emmie Wehr, a legendary racing figure in the Northern Territory.

Alice Springs trainer Rene Taylor is recovering from surgery in Adelaide following a back injury sustained when dislodged from a horse on Monday morning.

Taylor was working a horse along the banks of the Todd River behind the stable block located along the back straight at the Pioneer Park racecourse when she came to grief.

Most trainers utilise that particular area on a regular basis where horses can either walk, trot or canter.

“Rene was riding one of her horses along the bank alongside the Todd River and unfortunately suffered a fall,” Thoroughbred Racing Northern Territory chief executive Andrew O’Toole said.

“She wasn’t working in the dry river bed area as such.

“I’m aware of where Rene would have been riding the horse – knowing what I know it can be a pretty hard area.

“Not sure of the circumstances around the accident, but whatever has happened she suffered the injury having landed on her behind or lower back.

“Thankfully there were a number of trainers and others in the vicinity.

”A couple of ambulances arrived pretty smartly, but she was in a deal of pain.

“They took her off to Alice Springs Hospital, but they then had to fly her to Adelaide because she had a compression fracture of her L1 (lumbar vertebrae) in her lower back.

“From what I understand it was pretty close to her spinal cord and obviously they had to take all precautions.

“Surgeons operated Monday night and it finished around 1am on Tuesday, but it went well.

“They’ve been able to repair the injury thanks to modern technology.

“They also inserted rods, pins and screws into her back to stabilise the injury, and the surgeons were very pleased with the procedure.

“I understand Rene was sitting up the next morning with plaster over the scar where they operated, as well as a drain in that area.”

Taylor doesn’t have a big team, she currently has only got three horses in work – Tycoons Dior, Midnight Hustle and Piccadilly Hero.

She is the grand-daughter of the late Emmie Wehr, Australia’s first Indigenous female horse trainer, who was an institution in the Red Centre for well over 50 years many years before passing away in 2021 aged 83.

Taylor debuted as a trainer, a profession that is basically a hobby, in June 2020 and had her first win with the mare Golden Ripples at Pioneer Park in August last year.

Tycoons Dior, fifth over 1100m at 0-58 level on the Alice Springs program on November 11, was Taylor’s only other winner when the mare saluted in January.

“At the moment Rene is out of action, it will now be a period where there will be a great deal of recuperation and recovery required,” O’Toole added.

“Pretty nasty, but it could have been a lot worse from what I understand.

“The indications are that it was a very near thing to possibly becoming a paraplegic, so it’s bad news and good news I suppose you could say.

“Rene will be out for a period of time and her three horses are now in the care of fellow trainers Lisa Whittle and Carrol Hunter.

“I understand they want to run one next week in Rene’s name.

“I’m not sure when she will return to Alice Springs, but obviously there’s quite a deal of rehabilitation ahead to get the injury right.”

According to O’Toole, it hasn’t taken long for the Alice Springs racing community to rally and provide support for Taylor, who does have a fulltime job away from the track.

“That’s correct, the Alice Springs Turf Club is on the job there and they even named a race in Rene’s honour at the meeting on Saturday,” he said.

“I think they were also looking into the possibility of setting up a GoFundMe fundraising page to aid in her expenses.

“Of course she won’t be able to work for a period of time, so hopefully they will be able to set that up and no doubt the industry will look to contribute towards that, as will the parent body.

“Any assistance we can provide for Rene we will.”

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