Champion horseman out of hospital after suffering broken leg

Evergreen 79-year-old harness racing legend Brian Gath will have an extended stint on the sidelines after breaking his leg in three places at home early last Saturday.

Brian Gath in hospital
Brian Gath in hospital Picture: HRV

Gath, who is based at Longlea, on the outskirts of Bendigo, has been released from hospital after undergoing surgery.

"It was still dark, probably about 6.15am, and I just went outside to check on a pump before heading down to the stables – it's a routine I've done for ages," Gath said.

"I slipped on the icy concrete verandah and my left leg got caught under me. I did think the worst, because my foot felt floppy.

"I was lying on the ground, and I remember the dog come over like it knew I was in trouble. So, I crawled back into the house and woke up my wife Denise and told her that I thought I'd broken my leg."

Gath was taken to Bendigo hospital and x-rays showed it was broken in three places.

"They've put in a plate along with a screw and given me a pair of crutches. The doctors and nurses at the hospital were wonderful," he said.

Gath has had an amazing career in the sport spanning close to 65 years. His first winner was behind a horse called Tobacco Smoke at the Royal Melbourne Show in 1960. He has driven over 3600 winners, highlighted by the 1978 Inter Dominion with Markovina, and the Miracle Mile in 1992 with Franco Tiger.

He was an Australian representative in the World Driver's Championship in Europe in the 1970s, inducted into the Victorian Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2013, and in 2022 received the sport's highest individual honor, the Gordon Rothacker Medal.

"The Little Master" was at his brilliant best last Tuesday week (June 11) when he landed 10/1 chance Kyloan Queen in the third heat of the Avard Civil Bendigo Pace at his home track.

"I've got half a dozen horses in training so our son Matthew, who lives on our property and does his own team, will now have a few extras to do for a bit," Gath said.

Gath said the injury was to his "bad leg" which had a broken knee in a fall at Yarra Glen 25 years ago – but his hospital experiences this time couldn't have been more different.

"That first time I had a bolt put in it and then they hung a heavy bag off the leg (traction). I was in bed for six weeks and it was absolutely terrible," Gath said.

"But I'll be okay this time – I'll get to live another day!"

Grandson Louis Emerson, who lives with Brian and Denise, said the pressure would be on to keep the energetic septuagenarian rested and off his injured leg.

"We'll all be having to keep an eye on him that's for sure."