Racing shows its true colours at Kempton

November 1, 2016
 Sennockian Song leads the Red Amateur Riders’ Handicap, won eventually by Safira Menina, as racing got back on track at Kempton

“Hopefully Freddy will be OK,” said Pat Cosgrave, who had been on Tylicki’s outside when the incident occurred on Monday.

“It’s quite a sobering experience. We’re competitors on the track but we live together most of the day. When things like that happen, it’s not about racing and it’s not about money and it’s not about horses winning or losing. It’s about a bit of respect and hopefully the boys will be OK.”

Mercifully, it emerged that the other three riders involved in the pile-up had escaped without serious injury, including the new champion jockey of British Flat racing, Jim Crowley. He was treated on the track for more than an hour, yards from Tylicki, before being taken to hospital but was sent home on Monday night with no more than a broken nose.

The Injured Jockeys Fund, which is providing updates on Tylicki, said the 30-year-old was conscious and stable at St George’s Hospital in Tooting. He was undergoing assessment and further news about his condition is expected on Wednesday.

While an entire sport crossed its fingers for him, the workaday business of eight more races went ahead. John Egan, who was among the winners, expressed the robust philosophy of a veteran rider: “You know what, when something happens, it’s like when someone dies: you say, ‘Isn’t it terrible! We should appreciate things…’ Then you go out the door and you forget about that. Life goes on. And, sure, if it didn’t, the whole world would be stopped a long, long time ago.

“I had a bad fall in Wolverhampton about seven years ago and they told me afterwards that I was actually clinically gone for, like, a minute. Listen, these tracks are real safe, I swear to God, but look, accidents happen. You could slip down the stairs and break your neck. What are you going to do, take the stairs out? It’s one of them things, there was nobody to blame.”

Barney Clifford, a jump jockey in years gone by who now works as Kempton’s racing director, was full of praise for the medical team who had attended Tylicki and Crowley, especially their “meticulous, brilliant” leader, Dr Peter Johnson. “What’s so sharp now, which is the most important thing, is the response time,” Clifford said. He spoke also of how his groundstaff “rose to the occasion” in assisting the paramedics and said it was eight years since the last comparable incident at the venue.

In the background was a concern among some that this incident had highlighted the particular risks of all-weather racing, with packed fields racing around tight ovals.

“If you look at any all-weather racing, a good position is key,” the trainer Michael Attwater said. “Everyone wants to be on the inside on the bends, so everyone tightens up. It’s so easy to make a mistake. A clip of the heels and it’s a knock-on effect.”

However, Attwater accepts there is no obvious scope for improving safety.

“You’re dealing with half a tonne of animal, 10 or 12 of them in a race and an eight‑stone jockey trying to guide them at 40mph. It’s very hard to prevent anything … unless every race is confined to four runners and even then it’ll happen.

“I think the racecourses are as safe as they can be and obviously the paramedics were on hand so that everyone was dealt with quickly and that’s as much as we can do.”


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