More than six months since he last rode, journeyman Feargal Lynch returned to action with a single mount Sunday at Laurel Park.

Lynch finished eighth on Stone Farm’s Saintly Samurai for trainer Graham Motion in the featured seventh race, a second-level optional claiming allowance for 4-year-olds and up won by Oxide ($12) in 1:24.28 for seven furlongs over a muddy track.

It was the first race in 200 days for the 42-year-old Lynch, sidelined with a condylar fracture in his neck and wedge compression fracture in his back from a fall in the third race July 23, 2020 at Laurel. Saintly Samurai, a 6-year-old gelding sent off at odds of 10-1, was making his first start since last July 17.

“It’s been a long time; a lot longer than we thought it was going to be, but we got there in the end,” Lynch said. “There wasn’t a whole lot I could do with back and neck injuries, so we just had to give it time and let the body heal and, thankfully, it’s all come back good.”

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Feargal Lynch. Photo Maryland Jockey Club.

Lynch ranked among the leading riders at Laurel’s 2020 summer stand in wins and purse earnings at the time of his injury. He was unseated when his mount, Epitomize, clipped heels and fell leaving the backstretch, sending horse and rider to the ground. Both eventually walked off the track.

Initially fitted with a neck and back brace, Lynch was cleared to return to race riding last week. He said began his comeback by getting on horses at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. and has continued exercising in the mornings at Laurel.

“About a month ago I went up to Fair Hill for Graham,” Lynch said. “He asked me if I’d come up, so I went up and rode a few in the morning and I’ve been getting on horses at Laurel ever since for Brittany Russell and Jeremiah O’Dwyer, Hammy Smith, and just getting fit again.”

Lynch is a two-time meet leading rider at Pimlico Race Course, owning 525 career North American victories and nearly $19 million in purses earned, according to Equibase statistics. He is the younger brother of Laurel-based trainer Cal Lynch.

A former champion apprentice in England, Lynch rode Caribou Club to a record-setting victory in the 2019 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3) at Laurel, setting the Dahlia turf course mark of 1:33.35 for one mile.

Lynch was also the regular rider of retired multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Irish War Cry during his undefeated 2-year-old season of 2016 that included a win in the Marylander, now Heft Stakes.

Represented by agent Chris Pipito, Lynch said he has rides lined up on Needs Supervision in the $250,000 Runhappy Barbara Fritchie (G3), Majestic Dunhill in the $250,000 General’s Stake (G3) and Buckey’s Charm in the $100,000 Wide Country on Laurel’s Feb. 13 Winter Sprintfest program.

“I’ve got some nice mounts coming up next week for the stakes so that’s been a good incentive for me coming back,” Lynch said. “2020 was a bad year for everybody. The main thing is the family in Ireland and everything is good, so I’m happy about that. I’m just glad to get back on horses again. It feels good. My body’s healed itself. I’m looking forward to it.”