'One in a million' jockey is killed in horse fall
A LEADING trainer paid tribute last night to a "one in a million" apprentice jockey who was killed after being thrown from a horse.
Ronan Lawlor (21) died in the freak accident while he was riding the horse for his employer, trainer Pat Fahy, near Leighlinbridge in Co Carlow yesterday morning.
His death is the second tragedy to hit the popular Lawlor family from Leighlinbridge, following a fatal road crash that took the life of his sister, Deirdre, several years ago.
He is survived by his parents, Helena and John, brothers Gavin, Cathal and Conor and sister Aoife.
Mr Fahy fought back tears last night as he spoke about how highly he regarded the apprentice jockey.
"For as long as I can remember he's been coming up weekends and summers to work for me," he said. "He had plenty of potential, he was naturally fit and he was a good hardy, athletic, dedicated chap."
The trainer described the young man, from Leighlinbridge, as "one in a million" and someone who had a great attitude to life and to his work and could never be faulted. "He travelled all around Ireland with me, going to races. He was one of these special people."
Ronan also spent time as a jockey with trainers John Murphy in Cork and David Wachman in Tipperary and clocked up numerous rides on the flat in recent years, with more expected this year over hurdles.
His best finish was third place in the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Maiden at the Curragh last March, aboard the David Wachman-trained Askfornothing.
He was also a talented footballer and played in the past for the Carlow under-21s as well as his local club.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and gardai launched investigations into the tragedy after the fatal incident yesterday morning.
It's understood that the work-riders were finishing their work on the gallops when a horse tried to move to the right as Ronan attempted to pull him to the left.
The horse made a sudden movement, throwing the jockey against a post and rail.
He suffered serious head injuries and despite attempts by his colleagues to revive him and the arrival shortly afterwards of an ambulance crew, he was pronounced dead a short time later.
The jockey was brought to Waterford Regional Hospital for a post-mortem examination.
The HSA confirmed that it had sent inspectors to the scene while a garda spokesperson said that the death was "a tragic accident".
Leighlinbridge-based councillor Michael Doran said that everyone in the area is "very shocked and upset" about the tragedy.