Paul Nicholls: Injuries are frustrating but I can see the bigger picture these days

It's been a tricky season for Paul but he's not dwelling on the setbacks
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The inspiring story of Paul Stewart is helping Paul deal with the disappointments and pressures of a tough season...

"I think that sometimes the public believe that horses are machines, that you can open up the bonnet, fix, fill up with petrol and kick on again. They are not. They are athletes. And the older any athlete gets, the more susceptible to injury and the more time they need to recover."


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There was a time when injuries to horses like Tidal Bay would have really got me down. 
 
I don't mind admitting that I was incredibly frustrated upon hearing the news yesterday afternoon - for Mr Wylie, above all else -  but these days I count to ten and put things into perspective. There is no point moping around for too long, you just have to get on with it.
 
And nothing brings that into sharper focus than Paul Stewart, whose IronSpine Challenge is being given such well-deserved airtime at Ascot tomorrow.
 
Of course, we have had more than our share of injuries here in the last couple of years.
 
Al Ferof and Big Buck's were obviously blows earlier in the season, and those setbacks, following on from the recent retirements of the greats Kauto Star, Denman, Master Minded and Neptune Collonges, were hard to take at the time. It is gutting when these things happen.
 
I know it is a well-worn response of trainers, but it is true when we say that you only hear about the good ones. I would say, on average, season-ending injuries happen to about a dozen or so horses here, out of a total of around 160+, every year. So a small percentage. But every horse has people who love and care for it, whether it be rated 108 or 180.
 
So you have to get on with it, and stay positive and focused. 
 
However, I think that sometimes the public believe that horses are machines, that you can open up the bonnet, fix, fill up with petrol and kick on again. They are not. They are athletes. And the older any athlete gets, the more susceptible to injury and the more time they need to recover. Tidal Bay is 12 but hopefully he will be back in the autumn.
 
And for those who mention the trainers' championship when these things happen, I have a couple of things to say.
 
Firstly, it was a bit annoying yesterday that some bookies tried to make PR mileage out of Tidal Bay's injury by issuing revised odds on the title  - he was a 14-1 chance, wasn't he? - and, secondly, I think that we have done pretty well, given all that has happened, to still be in with a shout.
 
But, like I said, it all pales into insignificance when looking at Paul.
 
We were all devastated when hearing of his injury, but the way he has fought back has been an inspiration to all, and one of the magical moments for me on a racecourse was when he came up on the winning rostrum after Big Buck's won the World Hurdle after his accident. 
 
His story - which you can read here - and the Challenge he is undertaking this year proves that anything is possible.
 
So if you can contribute to the Spinal Research and Wings For Life charities this weekend - and Betfair have got the ball rolling by donating £250 - then please do.
 

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