Liam Treadwell: Jockey on his return from concussion and his 'famous gnashers'

Liam Treadwell
Treadwell won at the Cheltenham Festival on Carrickboy in 2013

Liam Treadwell's teeth helped to make him one of the best known Grand National-winning jockeys of recent years, and those celebrated gnashers have again played a significant role in his life.

Famously, in a BBC television interview after his 2009 Aintree success on 100-1 shot Mon Mome, Treadwell flashed a gap-toothed smile prompting interviewer Clare Balding to comment: "He hasn't got the best [teeth] in the world - but you can afford to go and get them 'done' now."

Though the jockey took no offence - and ended up laughing all the way to a free dental makeover - Balding apologised for the remark, which became one of the sporting stories of that year.

Now as he relaunches a riding career put on hold for six months by the side effects of "cumulative" concussion which made him fear for his future in the saddle, Treadwell, 30, says rewatching the incident, dubbed 'Col-gate' at the time, aided his return.

He said: "The symptoms of concussion probably wore off after six weeks or two months, but I was mentally not very well and my brain was still a bit fragile when I exercised. If I ran 100 yards down the road, I felt like I'd been clobbered round the head.

"I didn't want to ride a horse as I felt so grim, so disillusioned, and I was shutting myself away, not talking to anyone; I wasn't diagnosed with depression, but in my own head, sitting on the sofa at home, I felt depressed.

"A sports psychologist encouraged me to watch the good days on TV - good times, successes, so Mon Mome and [2013 Cheltenham Festival winner] Carrickboy were two I watched and seeing Clare's comments about my teeth at Aintree definitely helped me to smile again."

Liam Treadwell
Treadwell celebrates before the moment dubbed 'Col-gate' in 2009

Chatting in the car park at Kempton, on a rain-drenched Monday in November ahead of taking his first mount since late May, the winner of more than 250 races looked out on the soaking scene and insisted: "After the six months I've had, I don't give a damn about the rain - I'm just very, very excited to be here."

Reflecting on his time on the sidelines, he told BBC Sport: "I'd had a big bang [fall] in March, and then came back and had a couple of 'soft' falls but wasn't feeling myself.

"I'd be sat at home at night and I'd drop in and out of the conversation randomly, and couldn't remember the details of what had been said, and I was feeling very tired.

"My wife Emily and [fellow jockey] Robbie Dunne, who was living with us at the time, said I needed to see someone, and she actually filmed it one evening, on the quiet, to show me to make the point.

"I had some basic tests at [the Injured Jockeys Fund's rehabilitation centre] Oaksey House and a chat for 40 minutes or an hour to them. When I left the room, I was so emotionally and mentally drained I felt I'd been 10 rounds with Mike Tyson - I thought 'God, I've got some issues'.

"As one month came and went, and another, of course I was worried about what the future was going to hold for me as a jockey."

With the support of Mon Mome's trainer Venetia Williams, his main employer, who ordered him to "take as long as you need", he embarked on a lengthy period of complete rest - "doing nothing, giving the brain a chance to heal" - mixed with regular visits to his psychologist.

Those visits are now due to continue, to help him to deal with what he sees as the "railroad life of a jockey", and he plans to encourage colleagues to make their own appointments.

Liam Treadwell
Treadwell's memories of victory on Mon Mome aided his recovery

"I'm going to be very open with the lads in the weighing room," he said, "and tell them being able to speak to a specialist is an important thing for any sportsman or woman, especially when they feel like I did that they've got the weight of the world on their shoulders.

"Racing may be behind other sports like cricket or rugby where it's commonplace.

"I feel fitter and stronger than I probably ever have been - I hope that can transfer into the saddle - and I've got my mind back in order; I have a better understanding of myself I think."

At Kempton, it looked as though a fairytale return was on the cards for Treadwell on the Venetia Williams-trained Uhlan Bute as the pair took the lead at the third to last fence in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase, only for the horse to unseat its rider at the next with the race apparently at their mercy.

Despite the tumble, a smile - of perfectly aligned teeth - lit up the gloom. Nothing was going to disrupt the sheer delight of being back.