DECLAN MURPHY, a leading National Hunt jockey, was critically ill in hospital last night after suffering serious head injuries when his horse fell at Haydock Park.
The 27-year-old Irishman was carried unconscious from the racecourse after falling and then being kicked in the back of the head by a following horse.
He is under intensive care at the neurological unit at Walton Hospital in Liverpool. A spokeswoman for the hospital said that the jockey was 'critical but stable' after undergoing surgery last night.
Murphy's horse, Arcot, the favourite, was destroyed as a result of the injuries he sustained.
The accident adds to a catalogue of sporting tragedies in the last seven days. A week ago, the boxer Bradley Stone sustained brain damage in a British title fight at Bethnal Green, east London, and died two days later.
On Sunday, the former world champion Formula One driver, Ayrton Senna, of Brazil, died after a high-speed crash during the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, just 24 hours after a similar fate befell the Austrian driver, Roland Ratzenberger, during the qualifying stages.
The last jockey to die as the result of injuries sustained on the racecourse was Philip Barnard, 24, who sustained head injuries in a fall at Wincanton on Boxing Day 1991.
Murphy, recognised as one of jump racing's most stylish riders, had been enjoying a successful season. His biggest win came on Bradbury Star in the Mackeson Gold Cup at Cheltenham last November.Reuse content