May ready for incredible comeback

By Jonny Turner, Harness News Desk

Champion reinsman Ricky May is set to make arguably the biggest comeback in New Zealand harness racing history when he drives at Addington on Friday.

Few would have believed it possible for the star horseman to drive in a race again when he lay lifeless on the Omakau race track in January, surrounded by paramedics and off duty medical staff, who worked to revive his heart, which stopped after he collapsed and fell from the sulky of A G’s White Socks.

May’s return to race day driving after suffering from hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy, which must also rate as one of New Zealand sporting’s biggest ever comeback stories, was sealed when his cardiology specialist gave the all clear for the reinsman to return to the track on Monday.

Naturally, the seven-time New Zealand Cup winner was delighted to get his ticket back to the races.

Though the timing of his return could have come under warmer circumstances, May joked.

“It is a pity it’s winter.”

“But, other than that, it will be good to get back out there.”

May has one focus ahead of his return – getting back driving as well as he was before his Omakau incident.

“It probably hasn’t done me any harm having a break.”

“I have been doing it flat out for forty odd years.”

“Hopefully I can come back as good as I was – that is the main thing.”

May has been itching to get back out on the track since returning to trackwork driving three months ago.

“I haven’t been allowed to drive at the trials or workouts.”

“I rang the stipes a month ago and I have had to get a clearance before I could even drive at workouts and trials.”

“I went to the specialist [on Monday] and it was all good and he said everything is perfect.”

May admits there could be a few nervous moments to be had on Friday night.

“I guess I could be a wee bit nervous when I first get out there until I get a couple [of drives] out of the way.”

“I just really hope I can drive a winner, that would be great.”

May attended last week’s Friday night meeting at Addington with good friend, trainer Laurence Hanrahan.

It could prove to be a big help in settling back in to race driving mode this week.

“I hadn’t been to Addington or any races for months and it was actually a bit overwhelming – all the people.”

“It was good to catch up with everyone and I think that will help when I go back this week.”

“I will be able to concentrate on getting back in to the driving.”

May will hardly need to reacquaint himself with the Brendon ‘Benny’ Hill trained Skippy’s Delight in race 2 on Friday night.

The reinsman has been driving the horse in trackwork ahead of his return to the sulky.

“Benny has been bringing Skippy’s Delight and Ranger Bomb to Ashburton for a few runs.”

“They would have to be two of my best drives.”

“Even though he was disappointing last week, I think Skippy’s Delight will be hard to beat.”

Though he has already caught up with many of his friends and colleagues, May still has a few more people he wants to see.

At the top of the list is the young reinswoman, who was among the first to rush to his side at Omakau and who performed life-saving CPR on him – Ellie Barron.

“I haven’t caught up with Ellie yet – I am looking forward to catching up with her,” May said.

“We talked over Zoom, but I haven’t seen her, so that will be really good.”

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