Racing: Death allegations rejected

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The Independent Online
There will never ever be winners in the incident that cost Richard Davis, the jumps jockey, his life at Southwell last month, and the Jockey Club moved swiftly yesterday in an attempt to limit the number of losers.

The bulletins from Portman Square first contradicted suggestions that Mr Sox, Davis's mount on the fateful day, had run with a serious injury, and then disputed an assertion that there had been an unnecessary delay in getting the jockey to hospital.

Davis had warned fellow riders at the Nottinghamshire track on 19 July that he was worried about Mr Sox's poor jumping. In the event the horse got no further than the first, performing a grotesque somersault and landing on top of his partner.

It was alleged yesterday that this mistake may have been caused because Mr Sox had been suffering at the time from a cracked pelvis.

An initially unnamed jockey, who was later revealed to be the conditional rider Andrew Larnach, reported that, after a disastrous schooling session on Mr Sox, he had been told by the horse's trainer, Laura Shally, that the gelding was suffering from a cracked pelvis .

However, this information is considered to be far from persuasive at Portman Square. "We have heard the allegations from the jockey and spoken to the vets and to the trainer and we can find no evidence whatsoever to support the claim," David Pipe, the Jockey Club spokesman, said yesterday.

"The horse ran three times after it was supposed to have the injury and actually ran his best race when eighth of 17 at Stratford."

There was further criticism at the weekend from Davis's valet, Tom Buckingham, who claimed Jockey Club rules may have delayed the rider's arrival at hospital as it is stipulated that two ambulances must be on course at all times during racing.

This meant Davis was at the track for 30 minutes after his fall. In fact, he regained consciousness before he was taken to the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham, where the full extent of his injuries became clear. Davis later died from internal injuries to his liver and spleen.

"They should have sent Richard off and held up racing until another ambulance arrived," Buckingham said. "Who can say it didn't cost him his life? Who knows whether that extra half hour would have made the difference? Things happen pretty quickly once they get you into intensive care."

John Maxse, for the Jockey Club, attributed the delay to the fact that Davis was not thought to be severely injured in the moments after his fall. "In Richard's case he had regained consciousness," he said. "He was stiff and sore but didn't look in a critical condition, which is why he was not sent to hospital immediately and the two ambulances were kept on course."

Walter Swinburn is another who has been the victim of a terrible fall and it has taken the Flat jockey six months to recover from the injuries he sustained in Hong Kong and compose himself for a return to the racetrack. Swinburn received multiple wounds when his mount crashed through the rails at Sha Tin in February and has only recently satisfied doctors that he has recovered sufficiently to ride competitively.

The jockey is eligible to return to the saddle from next Sunday, when Leopardstown stages the only racing in Britain or Ireland. Alternatively, he may rejoin the weighing room at either Leicester, Thirsk or Windsor the following day. "I don't know whether I will be riding at Leopardstown as nothing has been arranged yet," Swinburn said yesterday. "I could return next Sunday or Monday and I am very much looking forward to it.

"It was nice to ride out yesterday - it felt as natural as ever and I have suffered no reaction. There is nothing I am especially looking forward to riding - just horses."

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