Tylicki case – what are the implications for racing?

·4-min read

Freddy Tylicki has succeeded in his claim at the High Court against Graham Gibbons over his fall at Kempton in December 2016 that left him partially paralysed.

Tylicki suffered “life-changing” injuries when he was trampled after falling from his mount Nellie Deen at Kempton in October 2016.

Here, the PA news agency looks at this landmark case and its implications for the sport:

Who is Freddy Tylicki?

Freddy Tylicki
Freddy Tylicki (Mike Egerton/PA)

German-born Tylicki, 35, was a successful Flat jockey. Son of three-time German champion jockey, Polish-born Andrzej Tylicki, he was champion apprentice in 2009 when he won the Lester award for apprentice jockey of the year. He rode more than 500 winners in his career, including two Group One victories on the James Fanshawe-trained Speedy Boarding, in the Prix Jean Romanet and the Prix de l’Opera, in 2016 before suffering the fall that ultimately ended his career. He now has a career as a pundit, having joined the Sky Sports Racing team in January 2019. In the summer he became part of ownership group the RacecourseClub’s executive team.

Who is Graham Gibbons?

Graham Gibbons
Graham Gibbons (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Gibbons, 39, was born in Galway and moved to the UK after a successful time in pony racing, joining Reg Hollinshead’s apprentice academy. His first Group-race winner came on Always Hopeful in the 2005 Richmond Stakes. He rode over a 1050 domestic winners in a career from 2000 to 2016 with his best total of 98 coming in 2013. He has not ridden since December 2016, handing in his licence pending a disciplinary hearing into an allegation he had attempted to switch urine samples with a fellow rider at a meeting at Kempton Park. Gibbons’ sample was found to include a metabolite of cocaine, and he was banned for a total of two and a half years by the British Horseracing Authority.

What happened at Kempton?

The incident took place at Kempton's all-weather track
The incident took place at Kempton’s all-weather track (John Walton/PA)

Tylicki sustained serious injuries when his mount Nellie Deen, trained by David Elsworth, stumbled and fell at about halfway in a maiden fillies’ stakes over a mile at Kempton on October 31, 2016. Four horses came down in the pile-up. The race was won by Madame Butterfly, ridden by Gibbons. The stewards looked into the incident and found Tylicki’s fall was caused by an accidental clipping of heels. Tylicki suffered a T7 paralysis, meaning he has movement in the upper half of his upper body but not the lower. He spent 15 days in intensive care in St George’s Hospital in Tooting before being moved to a general spinal ward in mid-November. The following month, Tylicki moved on to the London Spinal Cord Injury Centre in Stanmore. He has been confined to a wheelchair ever since.

What happened next?

The High Court in London
The High Court in London (Yui Mok/PA)

Tylicki sued Gibbons and took his case to the High Court. Both Tylicki and Gibbons gave evidence as did jockeys Jim Crowley and Pat Cosgrave who both rode in the race in question. Ryan Moore and Jim Crowley also gave evidence. Judge Karen Walden-Smith found in Tylicki’s favour, ruling that Gibbons “had a reckless disregard for Mr Tylicki’s safety”. The sum of money that has to be paid in compensation has yet to be decided.

What are the implications for racing and jockeys?

There may be an increased focus on stewarding
There may be an increased focus on stewarding (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Though the judge stressed the judgment relates only to this case and does not set a precedent, it will send shock waves through the racing industry. It is the first time a jockey has made a successful claim for damages against another jockey for an incident of this nature. There are likely to be significant questions about the future of indemnity insurance available to jockeys and what it might mean for the sport if such insurance were to become unavailable, while there will be a renewed focus on stewarding. The BHA said it would study the full transcript and “carefully assess what implications it may hold for British racing, in discussion with industry stakeholders”. The Professional Jockeys Association offered a similar response.

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