I was a champion jockey who won over £4m but now I'm confined to a wheelchair | The Sun

A DEVASTATING injury that robbed a champion apprentice jockey of his career has been thrust into the limelight again amid a flurry of bans for riders.

Freddy Tylicki was officially crowned the future star of racing in 2009 when he took the rookies' title.

Having started out in Ireland under master trainers Dermot Weld and Jim Bolger, the German-born rider moved to England to ride for Richard Fahey.

Tylicki beat David Probert by just one win to take the crown, then memorably dedicated his triumph to two young jockeys who had died in a flat fire in Malton, North Yorkshire, where Fahey was based.

Years of success, including two Group 1 triumphs, a 125-1 winner and a stunning Newcastle fiver-timer followed until everything came crashing down one October afternoon in 2016.

Riding Nellie Dean in a maiden fillies' stakes at Kempton, Tylicki crashed to the turf in a devastating four-horse fall, the likes of which is rarely seen on the Flat.

The rest of the meeting was abandoned and Tylicki was flown to hospital in Tooting, South West London, where, sadly, a few days later, doctors confirmed he had been paralysed.

Confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, Tylicki had suffered a T7 paralysis and would never be able to use his legs again.

The story became a case study of the dangers jockeys face day in day out until it made headlines again in December 2021.

That was after Tylicki successfully sued Graham Gibbons – the jockey who won the race Nellie Deen fell down in – for £6MILLION.

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The High Court case was horrible for Tylicki as he relived the devastating crash.

But it also gave him closure on an incident that had dominated his life after Judge Karen Walden-Smith ruled Gibbons had ridden in 'reckless disregard' for Tylicki.

It was found that Gibbons steered his horse Madame Butterfly in front of Nellie Deen, forcing her to clip heels and go down, changing Tylicki's life in the process.

Gibbons had initially been cleared of any wrongdoing by stewards on the day.

But the judge singled out a crucial four-second window of the race where Gibbons 'did nothing' to give Tylicki the room needed to race safely.

Judge Walden-Smith said: "It is not possible to say for certain that Mr Gibbons was in fact aware of Mr Tylicki on Nellie Deen to his inside, but in my judgment it is more likely than not that he did know he was there.

"Jockeys need to have an awareness of where the other horses are and, while a rider at the front cannot be expected to know what is going on with all the horses behind, a rider should be aware of what is happening alongside."

The case was a landmark in racing because it was the first in which one jockey made a successful claim against another for damages as a result of a mid-race incident.

Tylick said afterwards: "The 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 horseracing is no justification for competing with a reckless disregard for the safety of your fellow competitors."

How important those words should be now.

The distinction between 'reckless' and 'careless' racing is crucial, but even a legend like Frankie Dettori was recently banned for careless riding.

Aboard The King's horse Saga at Royal Ascot, he cut in front of several rivals in the Wolferton Stakes and got a nine-day ban.

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Marco Ghiani was banned for careless riding for his 'dangerous' mid-race move in the Epsom Dash in June while Theodore Ladd also got a ban for 'careless' riding at Nottingham.

With all the bans handed out for minor breaches of whip rules, let's hope jockeys, and the authorities, remember what really matters for safety.


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