Paul Wright | Godspeed, ‘Jolly’

first_img As the horse approached the winner’s enclosure, which is adjacent to the chute, where horses enter the racetrack proper after being saddled, the barrier that is closed after all the horses in the race enter the track was removed, and an individual bravely stepped on to the racetrack in an effort to direct the galloping horse off the course and down the same chute that the horses used to get on the track before the race. The now-terrified galloping horses did indeed turn into the chute, but instead of galloping down the chute to the parade ring, where it could be caught and restrained, PERFECT ASSET, unfortunately, did not go down the chute to the saddling area, but swerved to the right and entered a concrete walkway that allows patrons to enter the area leading to the winners’ enclosure. There is a closed gate at the end of the concrete walkway and upon encountering the block, the terrified horse retreated, only to be confronted by Jolly, who bravely tried to stop the galloping animal. Seconds later, Jolly was on the ground, hit by the horse, with his head coming into contact with the concrete floor of the walkway. He appeared to lose consciousness immediately, and nearby eyewitnesses tried desperately to alert the authorities that a major incident had occurred. The medical team on duty at the track was informed, and in minutes was seen attending to the fallen Najair. PERFECT ESCAPE The race was started, as the information relayed to the starter was that the loose horse was no longer a threat to the safety of the others due to race. On completion of the race, the ambulance that is mandated to follow the horses in a race in case of any mishap, was signalled by frantic bystanders and alerted to the incident. The driver quickly reversed the ambulance into an area as close to the medical team and the unconscious horseman, in order to facilitate transfer of the injured man to the ambulance via a stretcher. Inexplicably, the ambulance and crew were advised to move from the area in order to enable the horses that had just completed the race to go down the same chute to be unsaddled. Once all the horses had passed, the unconscious patient was successfully transferred to the ambulance, taken to the medical post, before being transported to the Spanish Town Hospital. Information now available confirms that that hospital had no modern equipment necessary for a conformed diagnosis and subsequent important treatment. Thus, later on, Jolly was transferred to a fully equipped trauma centre and treatment continued. The latest news available is that on Saturday last, he had surgery designed to relieve pressure on the brain and was still unconscious. I am sure that the necessary enquiry into the near tragedy will investigate whether anyone was at fault in allowing the horse to escape the attempts to load it into the starting gate. If the area between the stands and the winners enclosure is sterile and available ONLY to specific individuals easily identifiable by identification and authorised to be in that area. It will also examine whether there should be a barrier between the concrete walkway and the area leading to the winner’s enclosure. Such an investigation will also find out if it’s correct to instruct the ambulance (and crew) to be removed from the chute and await the passage of all the horse that had just completed the race, whether there could there be another way to the unsaddling enclosure, or if the horses could have waited on the racetrack until the injured person was transferred to the ambulance. In serious traumatic incidents, every second counts. Another serious question to ask in such an enquiry is what is the policy regarding the transfer of injured jockeys to hospital? Is there an agreement with any tertiary institution with the necessary equipment to facilitate successful treatment of the injured person? All our thoughts and prayers are with Jolly and it is hoped that upon conclusion of the investigation, changes will be implemented to correct any deficiencies identified during the investigation. That is all we ask. – Dr Paul Wright is a noted sports medicine specialist and media personality. For feedback, email: [email protected] Vassel Najair, a veteran jockey and horseman, was injured before the running of the sixth race on Wednesday, September 26. As ‘Jolly,’ as he is called, battles for life at one of the island’s leading trauma centres, every fan of the sport of racing is hoping for a complete recovery. But, as with every accident that results in injury to horse or human at a racetrack, there has to be an investigation on how it occurred, whether it could have been avoided, and how we can ensure that this never happens again. The sixth race last Wednesday was over six furlongs long, restricted to five-year-old (and up), non-winners of four races. While the horses were being loaded into the starting gates, horse seven, PERFECT ASSET, ridden by J. Innis, got loose from the starting gate crew, who were at the time trying to encourage the horse to enter the starting gate. PERFECT ASSET bolted, in a counterclockwise direction, heading home, as horsemen were wont to say. WHO IS TO BLAME? AMBULANCE SERVICElast_img read more