‘Horrific’ illness hits top jockey

By Andrew Mole

Seymour Jockey Tahlia Hope remains in hospital after being struck down with viral meningitis last week.

Her father, Seymour trainer Shannon Hope, said things were much better than when she was admitted to Frankston Hospital last week.

Shannon described Thursday and Friday as ‘‘horrific’’ as his 20-year-old daughter was in great pain and unable to hold a conversation because of the effects of the illness.

He said a team of specialists had been brought in to monitor her condition, which involved swelling on the brain as well as the infection.

‘‘It’s very confusing trying to keep up with all the medical opinions, but I have no doubt they are doing everything they can for Tahlia,’’ Shannon said yesterday.

‘‘She has been moved out of intensive care and initially went into the cardiac ward and then was moved to the stroke ward.

‘‘There seem to be things going on as well as the meningitis and that’s what they are trying to work out.’’

Tahlia had been responding well to treatment but had a setback at the weekend, with her temperature spiking.

But Shannon said she was in good spirits and the family had a roster so someone was at her bedside around the clock.

‘‘The doctors are sure they are on the right path with her but they are still running tests, with another set of them today (Tuesday),’’ Shannon said.

‘‘She is likely to be on a drip to treat the effects of the virus for a couple of weeks longer.’’

The illness is another setback for the talented young rider, who has battled injuries during her short career.

That has included concussion, a broken leg, collarbone and ribs.

The suddenness of the illness has also stunned family and friends — the weekend before she had flown to Adelaide for trainer Paddy Payne and landed a double.

She was preparing to ride for him at Caulfield last weekend before falling ill.