Jockey Steven Parnham will be sidelined for three months after undergoing knee surgery next Wednesday.
The dual Kingston Town Classic-winning hoop had been managing the injury until recently when pain in his left knee worsened.
Parnham had the option of delaying surgery and continuing to ride.
But he chose to go under the knife and miss Belmont Park’s autumn and winter features, rather than risk needing surgery on the verge of the Ascot summer carnival.
“It’s basically a stress fracture in my knee,” Parnham said.
“It might have happened in the fall at Pinjarra (last June), but it wasn’t picked up at the time. It would have been a good time to keep riding with Chris and Brad not here to ride dad’s horses.
“But I couldn’t afford to miss out on riding Rommel if I needed the surgery later on.
“The specialist has done the operation on hockey players and others and he’s confident I’ll be back riding in three months.”
Parnham is philosophical about the setback.
“Not much has gone right for me this season besides Rommel in the (WA) Guineas,” Parnham said. “I probably haven’t been riding at my best.
“I think it will be good to have a long break, spend some time with my family and come back as keen as a new apprentice.”
Parnham has ridden 11 city winners this season, with Rommel’s triumph on Super Saturday the highlight.
He is hoping to end his season on a high by guiding Malibu Style to victory for his trainer-father Neville at Ascot tomorrow. A brilliant last-start winner, Malibu Style clashes with exciting three-year-old Liberty’s Gem in the Westspeed Handicap (1200m).
Their first meeting produced an enthralling finish, with Liberty’s Gem claiming a short-neck victory over Malibu Style in the Placid Ark Stakes (1200m) on Super Saturday.
“He’s flying,” Parnham said of Malibu Style. “He runs into Simon Miller’s good horse, Liberty’s Gem, but we almost beat him in the Placid Ark.”
Neville Parnham finds himself in the unfamiliar position of having none of his three sons available to ride.
Lucy Warwick could be called on to fill the void. The leading apprentice will return from a shoulder injury at Tuesday’s Lark Hill trials, with a view to riding at the return to Belmont Park tomorrow week.
West Australian Newspaper