JOSE FERRER lay on a hospital bed fighting for his life after a horrific mid-race fall.
The Puerto Rican jockey had been trampled by horses and was in critical condition.
He had shattered his back in three places, broken nine ribs and suffered a collapsed lung.
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It looked like making it through to the next day would be a miracle, let alone riding again.
But less than four years on from those dark moments in September 2017, the inspirational horseman, 56, is not only back, he's arguably better than ever.
And he is set for big things at the Kentucky Derby – one of the world's biggest horse races.
It is an amazing comeback for the devoted family man, who after victory in a race in Florida, US, last weekend, thanked his 'beautiful wife'.
Towering Steffi was on hand with their two children, Derek and Joey, to congratulate their hero.
And she has always been by her man's side on and off the track since they got married in January 2015.
That is clear from her packed Instagram page, full of loved up photos with 5ft 2ins Jose, who has more than 4,500 career wins.
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But things could have been very different had something gone wrong with Jose's recovery from his fall at Delaware Park racecourse in Delaware, US.
The jockey doesn't recall much of the fall apart from it being 'terrible and very scary'.
A strong will to succeed had him back though – and a drive that put fear into rivals.
Speaking of his recovery, Ferrer, who said he was inspired by fortysomethings Tom Brady and Tiger Woods, told The Racing Biz: "I worked out so much that I scared the other jockeys.
"I don't smoke. I don't drink. I take care of my body and that helps me.
"I was back riding within two months. Doctors told me I couldn't do it. But I did it."
Now even greater success lies ahead in the Kentucky Derby.
Ferrer rode Helium to a surprise success in the Grade Two Tampa Bay Derby last weekend, labelling the ride his 'best ever'.
The horse is being aimed at America's most famous race on May 1, and is currently a 16-1 shot for victory.
Not that those odds will bother Ferrer, who overcame far, far greater just to race again.
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