Dunwoody in distress

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The Independent Online
The piercing image of Richard Dunwoody doubled up in agony on the track at Kempton on Saturday for such an excruciatingly long time is not going to be allowed to fade quietly. Dunwoody is distressed about the length of time it took for adequate medical attention to reach him and yesterday, from his hospital bed, called into question the level of care that was available at the fence at which he fell on See More Business during the Racing Post Chase.

Speaking from the intensive-care unit of the Ashford Hospital in Middlesex, where he is being treated for a hairline fracture of the sternum, Dunwoody said: "The first person to attend tried to move me and caused a lot more pain. That's why I asked to be left alone.

"I was certainly disappointed about the length of time before receiving professional attention and I will be consulting with Michael Caulfield [Secretary of the Jockeys' Association] and Dr Michael Turner [the Jockey Club's chief medical officer]. I would like to stress I am not singling out individuals but feel the procedure might need review."

Jump jockeys, who accept falls and injuries as part of their working lives, could hardly be confused with cry babies so when such a senior and well-respected member of the profession as Dunwoody challenges the level of care available on course, it is not an opinion to be ignored, particularly with the death of Richard Davis, at Southwell last summer, so fresh in the mind.

Medical attention out on the track is at the hands of St John's Ambulance volunteers, but every course has a doctor in attendance at each meeting and must be served by a sufficient number of fully equipped ambulances before the day's racing can commence. As Dunwoody lay on the track in full view of Channel 4's cameras covering what was the feature race of the fixture, some distressed viewers telephoned the track, including Dunwoody's mother. "We had three calls," Peter McNeile, Kempton's clerk of the course, said. "But the ambulance crew tried to approach him three times and he told them to go away."

Dunwoody will remain in hospital today for observation and will be seen by a specialist in order to assess the severity of his injury.

The Cheltenham Festival begins a fortnight tomorrow and, while the recovery speed of National Hunt jockeys lives at the same dizzying level as their optimism, Dunwoody still faces a sprint to be fully fit for the most demanding week of the year and the ride on One Man in the Gold Cup. "It would be a disaster if Richard was to miss Cheltenham," a spokesman for RBI Promotions, his management company, said yesterday. "But he's very positive and we're expecting him to be off for only seven to 10 days."