Paralysed jockey Freddy Tylicki sues rider Graham Gibbons for £6m over fall

Freddy Tylicki and Graham Gibbons
Freddy Tylicki and Graham Gibbons were riding in a race at Kempton in October 2016

Former Flat jockey Freddy Tylicki’s £6m negligence claim against fellow rider Graham Gibbons has begun in the High Court.

Tylicki is claiming damages for the “life-changing injuries” he suffered when his horse and three others fell during a race at Kempton in 2016.

Tylicki, who is a permanent wheelchair user following the incident, claims Gibbons’ riding was “dangerous in the extreme” during the race, and that he breached the duty of care owed by one jockey to another.

Gibbons denies causation and negligence and his defence is that the fall was a “racing accident occasioned by the horses coming together”.

The trial is listed for five days and is set to include witness evidence from top jockeys Ryan Moore and Jim Crowley.

Tylicki’s case is that halfway through the mile-long race on 31 October 2016, Gibbons directed his horse, the favourite and eventual winner Madame Butterfly, towards the running rail, cutting across the line of his horse, Nellie Deen, resulting in two points of contact.

It is claimed Gibbons made the manoeuvre despite Tylicki shouting “Gibbo” to “alert him and discourage him from persisting on his path”, and despite it being felt Gibbons “should have known” Tylicki’s mount was on his inside due to his skill and experience.

Lord Edward Faulks QC, representing Tylicki, told the court: “The claimant alleges that during the race the defendant rode negligently or contrary to the rules of racing that caused his horse to fall.

“It is our case that the manner in which you rode at this point in the race was dangerous to the extreme.”

Court documents lodged by the claimant state: “As a professional jockey riding in a race under rules the defendant owed the claimant a duty to exercise the reasonable care towards a fellow jockey that is to be expected of an experienced high level professional jockey.

“It is averred that on the present facts the defendant failed to exercise that degree of care.”

However, Gibbons’ defence is that he did not move towards the rail and there was not sufficient space for another horse to be between his mount and the rail.

Gibbons denies the contact was “caused” by his actions, and maintains the incident was “a racing accident occasioned by the horses coming together, as described, as they travelled at speed around the bend”.

His defence highlights the “split-second” decisions that jockeys are required to make and adds: “The defendant was not even guilty of a careless misjudgement. The fall was an accident of that type that occurs in racing.”

On Monday, a statement by the jockey Jim Crowley was read out in court in which he spoke of being “apprehensive” before Nellie Deen and Madame Butterfly made contact.

The court also heard that Charlie Lane, who has been called as an expert witness by the defence, issued a report saying that if he had been a steward acting on the day “he would’ve reached the decision that the interference was accidental”.

Lord Faulks said of Tylicki: “He has got on with his life. He is working in the racing industry and among other things is a commentator on Sky Sports Racing

“He is determined this injury will not ruin his life.”

It was a shout for survival – Tylicki

Recalling the incident, Tylicki said: “The pressure from my left from Mr Gibbons continued the whole way until he bumped into me, instead of coming off me, going away from me, he continued to put the pressure on, come into my racing line and basically wipe me out.”

Tylicki said he “completely disagreed” with the suggestion from Gibbons that he had “brought this on yourself because you went for a gap that didn’t exist”.

Under cross-examination, Tylicki said: “What happened was the pressure from Mr Gibbons to get back onto the rail just continued, no matter what was in his way.”

Patrick Lawrence QC asked him if Gibbons had gone beyond holding an aggressive racing line and had “shut the door”, to which Tylicki replied “correct, completely”.

Later Tylicki explained that after an initial contact between Madame Butterfly and Nellie Deen, he stood up in his stirrups, pulled on his reins and shouted “Gibbo”, but the horses must have clipped heels.

“I was pulling back as much as I could as well as shouting Mr Gibbons’ name, then I went down and it went black,” he said.

Mr Lawrence asked him: “When did you shout Gibbo?”

Tylicki replied: “After I squeezed and I couldn’t get upsides him, the pressure was just building up and building up and building up, I took a pull and shouted Gibbo. It was a shout for survival if I’m honest because I knew what was going to happen next. But there was no response.”

Tylicki said he has watched the footage of the race 30 to 40 times.

The court, which was shown film of the incident from five different angles, heard that Tylicki rode about 560 winners during his career, and was previously crowned champion apprentice.

Patrick Lawrence QC, representing Gibbons, said: “If what we say is a racing incident of the type that occurred here, albeit one with absolutely tragic consequences for one of the jockeys concerned, if that type of incident will tend to generate litigation and interest from the lawyers then it is not difficult to see that that will have multiple ramifications which may create all sorts of difficulties for professional sport, not just horse racing.” 

The trial continues.

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