Steel Helmet was very nearly a fairytale winner at Wolverhampton as trainer Harriet Bethell saddled her first runner since a life-threatening head injury halted her career in 2019.
Bethell suffered a heavy fall on the gallops at her yard near Hull and was hospitalised for nine months, six weeks of which she spent in a coma.
Her father William took over the running of the stable while his daughter learned to walk again and was treated by physiotherapists and other specialists after losing the ability to undertake basic tasks such as holding a toothbrush.
Bethell recently raised over £50,000 for the Injured Jockeys Fund by walking a lap of the track at Pontefract and continued her incredible recovery by taking charge of her first runner since 2019 in the Betway Casino Handicap on Monday afternoon.
A 66-1 shot partnered by Josephine Gordon, the chestnut defied those sizeable odds to finish second behind Alan King’s 9-2 chance This One’s For Fred.
“I thought that he would outrun his odds,” Bethell told Sky Sports Racing.
“You don’t really know with a horse like him as he’s a bit moderate, but he’s a dude.
“All he does is stay and Josie gets a great tune out of him, he just loves chicks!”
The gelding looked like the winner of the race until he was headed in the final furlong, a performance that reminded Bethell of his poignant victory at Lingfield in August 2019 when she was in hospital and her father was training the string.
“I thought he looked a bit like Lingfield, when he won there after my accident,” she said.
“He’s the first horse I trained on the Flat to win, I bought him off my old boss (Brian Ellison) and he’s what dreams are made of, he is.”
The race provided another milestone for Bethell as she also saddled Steel Helmet prior to the race, a task she had not undertaken since her accident.
“He’s a darling to tack up, me and Mum saddled him today and I’ve not done that on my own,” she said of the seven-year-old.
“Mum wouldn’t have felt confident on her own so I was in there to help, which was cool.”