A partially paralysed jockey suing a former rival for allegedly negligent riding has recalled the moment he shouted out “for survival”, shortly before a fall that left him with life-changing injuries.
Now a permanent wheelchair user, Mr Tylicki is taking legal action against fellow flat rider Graham Gibbons, in a bid to hold him liable over the incident during the Maiden Fillies Stakes race on the all-weather track.
If his court case is successful, his lawyers say an assessment of damages will be needed, with the claim “worth several million pounds”.
His lawyers argue that Mr Gibbons, who denies riding negligently, manoeuvred his horse Madame Butterfly into the path of Mr Tylicki’s mount, which was running into a gap between his horse and the running rail at the edge of the track as they made a right turn on to the home straight.
They claim that Mr Gibbons, who eventually won the race, must have known Mr Tylicki was “up the inner” and if not, should have checked, before allegedly making the move that saw the horses collide and Nellie Deen fall.
Giving evidence at a High Court trial on Monday, Mr Tylicki said he believed his horse must have “clipped heels” with Madame Butterfly, recalling that he fell and “it all went black”.
He claimed that an earlier leftward movement by Mr Gibbons’s mount had allowed him to move into the gap, but Madame Butterfly began moving back to the rail.
Mr Tylicki said: “The pressure from my left from Mr Gibbons continued the whole way until he bumped into me… instead of coming off me, going away from me, he continued to put the pressure on and got into my racing line and basically wiped me out.”
Moments before he fell, Mr Tylicki, trying to pull back his own horse, said he shouted out his competitor’s name as “Gibbo”.
He told the court: “It was a shout for survival to be honest, because I knew what was going to happen next, but there was no response.”
He disagreed with the suggestion by Mr Gibbons’s lawyer, Patrick Lawrence QC, that the decision to take his horse into the gap was “ambitious” and “bold”.
“I had to go forward because I was feeling the pressure of Madame Butterfly trying to take my racing line,” Mr Tylicki said.
He added: “All he would have had to do is slightly shift to the left, but the opposite happened, he went right.”
“When I shouted at him he still had plenty of time to shift to the left, but the shout was ignored,” Mr Tylicki told the court.
Earlier, Mr Tylicki’s barrister, Lord Faulks QC, told the court: “The claimant argues that during the race the defendant rode negligently or contrary to the rules of racing, which caused the claimant’s horse to fall, causing the claimant serious damage.”
In written submissions, he said it was not suggested that Mr Gibbons set out “deliberately to injure” Mr Tylicki, or “actively intended that Nellie Deen would fall”, but that he rode “without any due regard for the consequences of his manoeuvre”.
He alleged that “the degree of his carelessness over several seconds of riding was either deliberate and/or sufficiently careless as to meet the legal test for professional negligence in the particular circumstances of his race”.
Lord Faulks told the court that a stewards’ inquiry held on the day found the incident had been accidental, but argued that they “concluded their inquiry without knowing the gravity of the injuries” and did not get evidence from the four jockeys that fell in the race.
Various angles of TV footage of the incident was played to the court on Monday, with Mr Tylicki saying he had watched it some 30 to 40 times.
Mr Lawrence told the court that horse racing was a “highly competitive and dangerous sport” that required “split second” decisions and where incidents of “interference” are “commonplace”.
He said: “If what we say is a racing incident of the type that occurred here, albeit one with absolutely tragic consequences, if that type of incident will tend to generate litigation and interest from the lawyers then it is not difficult to see that will have multiple ramifications, which may create all sorts of difficulties for professional sport, not only horse racing.”
In written submissions, Mr Lawrence said Mr Gibbons “firmly denied” that he was “guilty of any form of carelessness or misjudgment”.
He said that there is “no evidence that justifies even a finding that Mr Gibbons was unacceptably careless” and “no evidence that comes anywhere near showing that Mr Gibbons’ conduct was sufficiently egregious to warrant tortious liability being imposed”.
“This was a racing incident which had tragic consequences but which does not found a tortious claim for compensation,” he added.
The hearing, before Judge Karen Walden-Smith, which is expected to last five days, continues on Tuesday, when more jockeys involved in the race will give evidence.
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