Jockey wins claim against former rival over life-changing horror fall

Champion jockey, 35, paralysed in horror fall WINS fight for millions in compensation after ‘reckless and dangerous’ rival caused a four-horse pile-up which cost him his career

  • Ex jockey Freddy Tylicki sued Graham Gibbons over a 2016 fall at Kempton Park
  • Mr Tylicki fell from his horse and was left paralysed after being trampled in race
  • Judge ruled Mr Gibbons rode negligently and steered horse into Mr Tylicki’s path
  • Hearing will be held to determine compensation amount if one cannot be agreed

A former champion jockey who was paralysed in a horror fall has won his High Court claim against a rival jockey for negligent riding which led to a four-horse pile up.

Freddy Tylicki, 35, fractured his spine and suffered multiple rib fractures when his horse Nellie Deen fell and he was trampled by other runners at a race at Kempton Park in October 2016.

Mr Tylicki, formerly a British flat racing Champion Apprentice and now a Sky Sports commentator, was left needing a wheelchair and had to give up the career he loved.

The former jockey took his case to the High Court last month, claiming fellow jockey Graham Gibbons was responsible for the four-horse pile-up which cost him his career.

Suing him, he claimed Mr Gibbons’ riding was ‘dangerous in the extreme’ when he directed his horse into Mr Tylicki’s path close to the race barrier.

Today, Judge Karen Walden-Smith ruled that Mr Gibbons, 39, was at fault and should pay compensation.

She said Mr Gibbons’ riding had been ‘undertaken in reckless disregard for the safety’ of Mr Tylicki.

Freddy Tylicki, 35, (pictured) fractured his spine and suffered multiple rib fractures when his horse fell and he was trampled by other runners in a race at Kempton Park in October 2016

He should have known that his rival was on his inside, close to the rail, and yet had continued to move his horse across into his path, causing the accident, the court heard.

‘The actions…were not mere lapses or errors of judgment,’ she told the court, awarding Mr Tylicki the right to a massive compensation payout.

As his claim was for the loss of his career and the cost of covering his needs as a severely disabled man, it is expected that his payout could run to several million pounds once assessed.

Mr Tylicki said the ruling has finally provided him with closure and allowed him to move on with his life. 

During the trial last month, Mr Tylicki’s barrister Lord Flaux QC said the two jockeys had been racing in the 3.20 flat race at Kempton when the incident happened.

Mr Gibbons had led the race on Madame Butterfly as it approached a bend, but had left a gap between his horse and the race barrier into which Mr Tylicki was moving, he said.

But as the two horses approached the bend, Mr Gibbons moved his horse to the right into the path of Mr Tylicki, giving him nowhere to go, he claimed.

The horses collided, before Mr Tylicki’s horse fell when it clipped the feet of the leading horse, which went on to win the race comfortably.

A judge ruled that Mr Gibbons (pictured) rode negligently and should have known Mr Tylicki was there when he steered his horse into the path of Mr Tylicki and caused him to fall off

The QC claimed Mr Gibbons ‘must have been aware’ that Mr Tylicki was in the gap between him and the barrier.

‘He caused the contact between the horses, notwithstanding that Mr Tylicki had shouted a warning ‘Gibbo’ to discourage him,’ he continued.

He said that, having manoeuvred his horse into the path of the other, Mr Gibbons’ actions had been ‘dangerous in the extreme.’

After the fall, Mr Tylicki was trampled by following horses and had to be airlifted to hospital.

He suffered breaks to his ribs and spine and has been left permanently paraplegic and dependant on a wheelchair.

But the barrister said he had made the best of life despite his disabilities.

‘He got on with his life and is working in the racing industry,’ he told the judge.

‘He is a commentator on Sky Sports Racing. He will not let this injury ruin his life.’

Mr Tylicki (left in 2010) said the ruling that Mr Gibbons is liable (right in 2016)  has provided him with closure. A hearing will be heard to determine compensation if one cannot be agreed

For Mr Gibbons, barrister Patrick Lawrence QC denied liability for the accident, saying he had not been negligent and did not break racing rules.

Mr Gibbons denied knowing that Mr Tylicki’s horse was on his right and said he made ‘no significant movement’ in that direction until after Mr Tylicki’s horse had clipped his.

In her ruling today, the judge said: ‘Mr Gibbons knew, or at the very least ought to have known, that Mr Tylicki was inside on the rail and had moved up to within a half-length of Madame Butterfly.

‘He did more than merely control Madame Butterfly to enable her to keep a racing line around a bend that had started six seconds before.

‘He exerted real pressure on the right hand rein of Madame Butterfly in order to bring her across Nellie Deen’s racing line and did not stop bringing her in close to the rail even after the first collision.’

She continued: ‘Horse racing is a sport which requires highly skilled professional jockeys to ride powerful animals, with minds of their own, to win or be best placed as they can. 

‘They need to be able to assess and reassess situations and make split second decisions as to what to do, based on skill, experience and intuition.

‘Risk of injury is part of a professional jockey’s life and, while more unusual in flat racing, falls from horses are an inevitable concomitant of horse racing.

A second trial would deal with the damages to be awarded, unless agreed between the parties

‘Interference between horses and findings of carelessness are regular.

‘In this case, the actions of Mr Gibbons riding Madame Butterfly on 16 October 2016, colliding with Nellie Deen mounted by Mr Tylicki, were not mere lapses of concentration or inattentiveness.

‘The actions of Mr Gibbons were, for the reasons I have found and based on the detailed evidence I have scrutinised, undertaken in reckless disregard for the safety of Mr Tylicki.

‘In the circumstances of this particular race, I have therefore found that liability has been made out.’

The exact amount in compensation which Mr Tylicki will receive will be decided at a further hearing, if not agreed by the parties outside court.

In a statement, Tylicki said: ‘I am of course delighted by today’s judgement and the court’s confirmation that, contrary to the views of the BHA Stewards, my fall at Kempton Park on 31 October 2016 was caused by the reckless riding of Graham Gibbons.

‘Today’s result has finally provided me with closure and I look forward to putting this all behind me and moving on with my life.

‘I hope though that this judgement acts as a reminder that competing in a dangerous sport like horse racing is no justification for competing with a reckless disregard for the safety of your fellow competitors.

‘I hope also that this case causes the BHA to investigate why its Stewards make about one finding of Dangerous Riding every 10 years and whether that is in reality any kind of deterrent at all.’

A second trial would deal with the damages to be awarded, unless agreed between the parties.

In a statement, the BHA said: ‘We will consider the High Court judgement in detail and carefully assess what implications it may hold for British racing, in discussion with industry stakeholders.

‘The full transcript of the hearing will also allow us to consider any of the other relevant matters which were raised over the course of the hearing.’

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