About turn as Turner returns to the Club

RACING
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The Independent Online
Dr Michael Turner returned to the fold yesterday as the Jockey Club's chief medical adviser averting a crisis in confidence in the Club's commitment to safety standards for jockeys. Turner's disquiet at his employers allowing racing to continue at Southwell, despite his reservations about safety standards in the aftermath of the death of Richard Davis at the track in July, was labelled as a "misunderstanding".

Turner withdrew his threat to resign after detailed discussions at the Jockey Club's headquarters in London and the Jockey Club agreed to retain his services, giving him a "vote of confidence in the way he has carried out his work", according to the Racecourse Steward Robert Waley-Cohen.

The spotlight now falls instead on medical facilities at Southwell. Turner will carry out a personal inspection of the standards of medical provision at the Nottinghamshire track before racing takes place there on Monday.

It was the Jockey Club's decision to ignore Turner's advice to cancel the course's August Bank Holiday meeting until he had conducted an inspection, that prompted his surprise resignation.

However Waley-Cohen said yesterday that medical cover that day had met Jockey Club regulations, the affair had been a complete "misunderstanding" and that Dr Turner had "over-reacted".

"It was all based on a complete misunderstanding that took a certain amount of time getting to the bottom of and I think he probably over-reacted," Waley-Cohen said.

"He expressed concern about safety at Southwell and as a result we insisted Southwell having present county ambulance staff [instead of the Ambulink staff that were on duty at the time of Davis's death] on 26 August and received a written assurance from Southwell it would do that.

"I think he wanted to verify that the ambulances were as he specified. The ambulance service he requested was supplied precisely to the specifications he requested and is set out in the instructions. Had it not been done so the meeting would have been cancelled.

"I think basically he misunderstood what was happening. We didn't ban him from visiting Southwell. We had a meeting yesterday when it became clear there was an internal misunderstanding and now it has been patched up.

"We feel he has done a very good job over the last four years and are very happy with the work he has done for us. We think that when he inspects Southwell on Monday he will find everything in order. It will be severely disappointing if he does not."

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