Walter Swinburn, the jockey who won last year's Derby on Lammtarra, is in a critical condition in hospital in Hong Kong after a fall during a race yesterday.
A spokesman at the Prince of Wales Hospital reported that Swinburn had been unconscious for several hours, but had regained consciousness and was under sedation. "His condition is continually changing, but it is critical," the spokesman reported. The 34-year-old jockey also has cracked and fractured ribs, a broken collar-bone, fluid on the lungs and extensive bruising to the upper part of his body.
Swinburn's family, who are based at the Genesis Green Stud in Newmarket, have been in contact with the hospital. His brother, Michael, said: "They have told us that Walter has undergone an operation to insert a tube in order to remove fluid from his lung, but that his condition is not life- threatening."
Swinburn's father, Wally, was last night arranging a flight to Hong Kong to be with his son.
The fall occurred shortly at the start of a six-furlong race at Sha Tin, when Swinburn's mount, Liffey River, veered left after the stalls opened. The horse went across the track and smashed through a running rail, hurling Swinburn over his neck.
It was Swinburn's last day of riding before the break for the Chinese New Year and he was due to go to the United Arab Emirates next month to take part in the world's richest race, the Dubai World Cup. The jockey, who has been a leading member of his profession for 15 years and has ridden other Derby winners in Shergar and Shahrastani, planned to return to Britain for the start of the Flat season on turf at the end of March.
Sha Tin, one of the world's most modern racecourses, is a favourite winter destination for British and Irish jockeys. Swinburn has been extremely successful there on previous visits.
However, the track has been the site of two falls that exacted a heavy toll, both incidents occurring in 1984. In February that year the French jockey Philipe Paquet sustained head injuries which ended his riding career and 10 months later, Brian Taylor, who won the 1974 Derby on Snow Knight, was killed in a fall on the track.Reuse content