Racing: Sombre jockeys rally round: Sue Montgomery reports from Lingfield as racing comes to terms with a tragic fall

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The Independent Online
A MINUTE'S silence was observed at Britain's racecourses yesterday in memory of Steve Wood, who died in a fall on Friday. Here, jockeys and officials gathered at the three-furlong post and stood in the rain, heads bowed, as a wreath was laid by the spot where the accident happened.

Wood's weighing-room colleagues at the day's three Flat meetings donated their riding fees to a fund for his dependents, raising around pounds 14,000. One of the jockeys who rode in the fatal race, Billy Newnes, was at the Surrey track again yesterday. He said: 'The atmosphere in the weighing-room is very sombre. This should be a big day, with a Derby and Oaks trial, but everyone is very subdued.

'The accident was no one's fault, it really was just one of those horrible things.' This point was graphically illustrated at Beverley where, in a similar incident in the 2.50, the apprentice Brian Russell escaped completely unscathed.

Newnes continued: 'It was one of the fastest races I've ridden in, with half-a-dozen front- runners. I was near the back, and I saw Steve's horse bob and go down, and I had time to snatch round. But those just behind him could do nothing. We Flat jockeys are men with boy's frames; the jump riders are men with men's frames. All the body protectors in the world could not have saved Steve, the way the horses galloped over him and kicked him.'

If good does come out of the tragedy, Newnes hopes that will be in the form of a rule requiring jockeys to keep a straight course for a furlong after leaving the stalls. He added: 'It would not have made any difference in this instance, but it prevents bunching and is the one safety aspect they have on the continent that we do not.'

The players wore black armbands, and the show went on. The trials resulted in a 16-1 double for Michael Stoute and Walter Swinburn, but threw little light on the Derby or Oaks, as neither winner will run at Epsom.

Hawker's News ran out a two-length winner of the Derby Trial, beating Chocolat de Meguro cosily after a tussle through the final two furlongs. Sheikh Mohammed's inexperienced colt, a full-brother to In The Wings, holds no classic entries, but may be supplemented to the French Derby if he continues to please connections.

Go For Gin, returned at 9-1, led from start to finish to take the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs last night. Strokes Creek was second, and Blumin Affair came home third.

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