A racing yard manager from Newmarket, lucky to be alive after suffering a brain haemorrhage while riding out, has reached the finals of the world’s most valuable competition for stable and stud staff.
Joanne Fowles, who is in charge of Woodland Stables, for town trainer Roger Varian, has made it down to the final three in the Leadership Award at this year’s Goldolphin Stud and Stable Staff awards.
The 42 year old, originally from Wales, suffered her near-death experience a little over a year after joining up with her then boss, and her current employer’s predecessor, the late Michael Jarvis.
“I was riding a filly up Warren Hill but as we got to the two-and-a-half furlong marker I just went blind and I felt something in the back of my head,” said Joanne.
“Gay Jarvis (Michael’s wife) saw the whole thing and she came back with another girl to help me out but I refused to get off the horse.
“After being walked back to yard I just fell off the horse. Michael picked me up and it was thought that I had a migraine.
“When I got home the pain was worse my parents were here at the time and they called an ambulance.
“It turned out that an abscess had burst behind my left eye and formed a clot. Had the clot have burst I would not be here now but I’ve lived on to fight another day. Not many people walk away from what I had. I am not religious person but God must have been looking over me that day.
Ironically, the haemorrhage that could have killed Joanne led to the role which has seen her make the award finals.
“I couldn’t even write or walk and I had to learn to ride again,” she said. “I was supposed to be off work for a year but me being me I wanted to get back riding and Michael got me on a horse on the indoor ride after four months.
“It was from there he gave me 12 horses that had problems to look after and re-train. Things went really well and that is when we opened up Woodlands.”
Joanne, who has already won £2,000 for reaching the final, will now head to London’s Jumeirah Carlton Hotel where the awards are being hosted by Clare Balding on February 23 to find out if she is has won the £5,000 first prize.
“I was very surprised to get through as not a lot happens to me in my life,” she said,
“Everyone is saying well done especially people at work who say it is well deserved.”
For more Newmarket finalists’ stories, turn to pages 18 and 55.