Friday 9 December 2016

Watch - Freak golf ball incident results in jockey being flung from his horse at Sandown

Graham Clark

Published 09/09/2016 | 17:06

Jockey Kieren Fox avoided injury after a bizarre incident involving a golf ball saw him suffer a fall in the opening race at Sandown Park on Friday.

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Fox hit the deck inside the final half-furlong of the British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Stakes after his mount, the John Best-trained Luxford, jinked right, leaving him with little chance of staying on.

On closer inspection of a replay of the five-furlong contest, the two-year-old filly, who was making her second start, had become distracted by a stray golf ball on the course which appeared to be thrown up by eventual winner Big Lachie, before ricocheting off the helmet of Charlie Bennett on Stanhope and across the sightline of Fox's mount.

Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper said: "What seems to have happened is that the winner (Big Lachie) has flicked up the golf ball which has then appeared to hit the helmet of Charlie Bennett in behind and ricocheted off him across Luxford.

"Obviously this is something we never like to see happen and in my 20 years of clerking we've only had three or four examples of this.

"I am satisfied that we take all reasonable precautions to make sure that the course is as clear as we can make it but we accept that there will be some balls buried in the grass.

"The five-furlong course is situated alongside a golf course and the area in question is near a par three hole.

"We have a 14-strong team that walk the course, and other parts of the track, looking for golf balls as golf is played here year round other than on days when racing takes place.

"From my experience, even with that many people doing checks on the course, unless they see or tread on a golf ball there will be golf balls buried on the course. It is inevitable.

"Even where there is netting next to the driving range we have found them.

"It is not a unique occurrence and we probably have this happen once every three or four years."

He added: "The horse and rider are fine and the stewards' looked into it and after talking to me and hearing the explanation of the routine we take they have treated it as accidental."

The afternoon ended on a more positive note for Fox after he partnered the Lee Carter-trained First Experience (8-1) to victory in the Kingsway Claims Fillies' Handicap.

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