Sunday 28 December 2014

Tramore incidents bring track issues back into spotlight

Claiming rider Karen Kenny lucky to escape serious injury in horror fall

Published 18/08/2014 | 02:30

The magnificent Kingman and James Doyle completed a Group One four-timer in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville
The magnificent Kingman and James Doyle completed a Group One four-timer in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville

Any day that a rider has to be airlifted to hospital from a racecourse is not a good one, but thankfully Karen Kenny was yesterday reported to be doing well after her crashing fall at Tramore on Saturday.

The seven-pound claimer was hurled head-first into the ground when the retreating Our Pearl clipped heels with Hurricane Volta on the downhill run before the turn for home in a 12-furlong maiden.

She lay prostrate on the ground, and word quickly filtered through that an air ambulance had been despatched. All of a sudden, a dark cloud hung over the sun-kissed festivities.

Mercifully, it soon emerged that she had come round after being unconscious for a few minutes. Kenny had what the Turf Club's senior medical officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick described as a "small subdural haemorrhage", or a clot on the brain that ultimately didn't require surgery.

McGoldrick added yesterday that she was bright and stable but that she would continue to be monitored. That constitutes a positive outcome to a perilous incident, one that was preceded moments earlier by the fall of Columbanus.

Chris Hayes' mount was positioned on the outside in third when it crashed to the floor after a furlong, but both horse and rider rose instantaneously.

Unfortunately, Tramore has a chequered history of random casualties. In 2012, four equine fatalities on one evening in June prompted a Turf Club investigation. The Turf Club found that the incidents were unrelated, as it had done when there were four equine deaths on one night at the August festival in 2011. The regulator eased routine watering restrictions to allow Tramore to ensure that the ground there, which was deemed to dry out quickly due to its proximity to the coast, would be no quicker than good to firm.

Fatalities

The ground had dried only to good by Saturday and wasn't a problem. Maybe it was when three of the four fatalities fractured legs on the Flat in 2012, but frequently now trainers and jockeys are unanimous in their praise of the Tramore ground. Similarly, the slippy conditions that prompted the easing of the watering restrictions in 2011 weren't at play this time.

To muddy the water, Fiord Cottage fell on the flat between the final two hurdles with a circuit to run yesterday. His front end collided with another horse's rear end and it resulted in another nasty spill.

People often query if Tramore is safe for racing, which is a legitimate question given its record. In one respect, it's not enough to say that you know what to expect if you run a horse or ride at Tramore, as it is a notoriously trappy venue that isn't even deemed suitable for stalls.

As evidenced by an average field size of marginally more than six last week, Flat races there certainly aren't unanimously supported. Trainers can and do vote with their horses' feet, but those who opt to run at Tramore obviously have confidence in the track's condition and layout.

However, the issues that have been addressed over the past few years appear to have had a positive effect, even down to a simple recommendation that trainers ensure horses running there are properly shod.

Regrettably, if you cast a cold eye over Our Pearl's fall, you might conclude that Kenny misjudged the situation. Wayne Lordan came by her on Hurricane Volta and held his line, but Kenny then went to switch towards the outside of that partnership.

The video evidence would suggest that she ought to have waited for another stride or two before doing so. It was the sort of misjudgement that could happen anywhere, albeit the nature of Tramore's circuit makes such manoeuvres more complicated for inexperienced jockeys. By the same token, Fiorde Cottage's fall under Richie Kiely emerged as a result of a pretty innocuous bump, the sort of which is inevitable around a tight track. A stewards' inquiry found the interference was accidental.

Columbanus' fall is less straightforward to analyse, as he dropped as if he had been taken out by a sniper. He didn't clip heels, so whether he tripped over his own feet or as a result of a ridge or a false patch of ground is for Turf Club officials to establish.

What you can say is that he didn't fall because the ground was too slippy or a bend was poorly configured. Likewise, that none of trio in question - nor any of the other fallers there over the four days - were seriously injured is testament to the racing surface being safe.

Still, Tramore could do without air ambulances or a spate of equine fatalities for a couple of years.

Moore excels on Adelaide in Chicago

Aidan O'Brien will vie for a debut $3m Cox Plate win with Adelaide after the three-year-old secured the Ballydoyle genius his third victory in the $500,000 Secretariat Stakes on Saturday night. The son of Galileo, which is out of Ger Lyon's 2007 Queen Mary heroine Elletelle, defied drifting across the Chicago straight to grind out a decisive win at odds of 11/10 under Ryan Moore.

With a half-share reportedly having been acquired by Australian interests, Adelaide is now expected to return to his spiritual home for a tilt at the most revered weight-for-age race Down Under before staying on to trained by Chris Waller.

Moore promptly completed a lucrative Grade One double aboard Marco Botti's Euro Charline - bought for 800 guineas as a yearling - in the Beverly D.

Hopes of a European clean sweep of the night's feature events were undone when Magician was thwarted by Hardest Core in the Arlington Million. Joseph O'Brien drove his mount to lead into the home straight, but they had no answer to an unlikely turn of foot from the outsider.

The Hard Spun four-year-old was bought as a hurdling prospect for $210,000 in November. Hardest Core then had to have 18ft of intestine removed after complications arose when he was gelded, but he progressed to cap a four-race winning spree that began in two claimers with Saturday's famous coup under the unheralded Eriluis Vaz.

His trainer Edward Graham had never even entered a horse in a Stakes race before, so it was a rags-to-riches fairytale fully in keeping with the American dream.

O'Brien determined to partner Australia

Joseph O'Brien has revealed his intention to get down to 8st 12lb to ride Australia in Wednesday's Juddmonte International at York.

The towering champion jockey successfully did 9st for just the second time since Irish Derby weekend in June when he rode Magician on Saturday. He tends to do between one and three pounds over for everyday 9st mounts, and even carried a pound over for 9st 4lb when winning on Aussie Guest at Cork recently.

Last week, his father Aidan appeared to rule him out of the ride on Australia at York due to the three-year-olds' allowance. However, the brilliant dual Classic winner was confirmed a likely runner yesterday, and his talented 21-year-old rider declared his intention to ride. Australia is an 8/11 favourite to complete a Group One hat-trick in the 10-furlong Knavesmire showpiece.

O'Meara maintains form with fine treble

Yorkshire-based Co Cork native David O'Meara, fresh from his first triumph on home soil courtesy of Custom Cut at Leopardstown on Thursday, continued his fine form with an across-the-card treble in England on Saturday.

The pick of the trio was Out Do, which justified being backed from 12/1 into 7/1 to give the rising star his third win in four years in the Great St Wilfrid Handicap at Ripon.

Tweet of the weekend

@MCYeeeHaaa

It appears no one has learnt that going a crawl is not the way of beating speed champion Kingman. A star. Yeeehaaa!

- Outspoken At The Races presenter Matt Chapman delivers his verdict after Kingman claimed his fourth Group One on the spin with another superlative performance under James Doyle in the Prix Jacques Le Marois yesterday. John Gosden had agonised over whether to run the exceptional colt on deep ground in Deauville, but his decision to give him the go-ahead was justified when Kingman came from the rear to surge clear. The QEII at Ascot in October is next for the sensational miler.

Numbers game

5 Panama Hat stretched its unbeaten run to five at Dundalk yesterday. Andy Oliver's charge was 36lbs higher than when initiating his winning spree, but another two-and-a-half-length triumph under Fran Berry - standing in for the sore Chris Hayes - indicated that the handicapper has a bit to do yet.

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