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Enough Is Enough

Candice Delpech Speaks Out

Anthony Delpech is on track to collect his third Championship Title (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Anthony Delpech (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

On Saturday, 7 April 2018, during the running of the Gr1 SA Classic at Turffontein, Majestic Mambo stumbled, dislodging SA Champion Jockey, Anthony Delpech. While the rest of the field – including the on-course ambulance – continued across the finish line, Anthony was left lying at the 350m mark. While time stands still in situations like that and everything feels exaggerated, it would be not be unfair to say that too much time elapsed before Anthony was attended to.

From the track, the first responders transferred him into the on course ambulance, which drove him to the track’s first aid facility. There, Anthony was seen by the Chief Medical Officer and despite complaining of pain in his hands and feet, was deemed to have concussion. He was transferred into another ambulance and transported by road to Milpark Hospital’s casualty department.

His wife Candice, who unusually was watching from home in Durban, immediately left home and was making her way to the airport to catch a flight to Joburg. While driving to the airport, she was having to field calls, trying to relay Anthony’s Medical Aid details in order to get him admitted as somehow, these did not travel with him.

Sequence of events

By the time Candice arrived at the hospital at 8pm on Saturday evening, the hospital was ready to discharge Anthony and send him home after a CT scan had picked up nothing out of the ordinary. Tex Lerena was present and insisted that the correct protocol for a head injury was overnight admission for observation. Luckily they listened and at 10pm Anthony was re-admitted into a general ward, with Candice in a chair by his side.

After a difficult night, Anthony was next seen by a doctor at 6am on Sunday morning and an MRI scheduled for lunchtime. Still complaining of pain in his hands and feet as well as having increasing difficulty breathing, it was not until 9pm on Sunday night that Anthony finally had his vital signs checked, at which point it was discovered that his oxygen saturation levels were at 52 – dangerously below the accepted norm of 95-100.

On Monday, Anthony was seen by a neurosurgeon who advised that the MRI results revealed a herniated disc in his neck which was exerting pressure on his spinal cord. Surgery was scheduled for the following day. The surgical team talked Anthony and Candice through the proposed operation on Tuesday morning, explaining that it entailed the removal of the herniated disc material, a bone graft to be inserted into the disc space, followed by a cervical fusion which entails screwing the upper and lower vertebrae to a metal plate to stabilise the joint. When Anthony nodded his understanding, the doctor exclaimed, “Don’t move your head, you can sever your spinal cord.” “I was horrified,” says Candice.

Speaking out

Anthony and Candice Delpech (photo: supplied)

Anthony and Candice Delpech (photo: supplied)

Although the operation was successfully performed on Tuesday, 10 April 2018, as with any injury and major surgery, it is going to be a long road to recovery. However, things could have been very different.

Candice has courageously agreed to talk to me about the accident. Given the extremely private nature of the Delpech family, it’s a responsibility I take seriously. And I think everyone else should too.

While these are difficult details for the family to share, Candice says enough is enough. “In my 26 years with Anthony, I’ve never once raised my voice or stated any opinion about racing or how Anthony has been treated, but I know if we don’t stand up together now, nothing is going to be done.”

“Anthony has devoted his life to racing. He understands the risks and accepts there are injuries associated with the job, but it’s his passion and if there are falls, the support should be there.”

First response

“Anthony was on the ground for far too long before the first responders reached him. He was incorrectly diagnosed on course as having a concussion and with a serious spinal injury, was transferred to hospital by road. If that ambulance had jammed on its breaks or hit a bump, he could have severed his spine. Lastly, he was incorrectly admitted to the casualty department, which delayed him getting the correct care he so badly needed.”

“It comes down to the quality of the first response and the chain of communication. Had there been a properly experienced trauma medic on site who could have correctly assessed the seriousness of the situation, Anthony would have been airlifted to hospital. The handover to casualty would have been strong and Anthony would have been admitted to the ICU immediately. Instead, the on duty casualty doctor wanted to discharge him thanks to insufficient information from the two previous services. Anthony is lucky to be alive and not a quadriplegic.”

The Hard Truth

In response to the statement issued by Phumelela regarding race day safety measures, Candice says there are no ‘misconceptions among the public.’ “We have experienced the total opposite of this response. This is not the first time this has happened and it’s not isolated to a single centre. In December 2015, Anthony suffered a bad fall when his horse flipped over in the starting stalls at Kenilworth. The on course medic pronounced him fit to go home. Pippa Mickleburgh drove him to his hotel, where he was in so much pain, he hardly slept. The next morning Larry Wainstein helped him get a set of crutches. It was 22 December so he couldn’t get a direct flight home, and had to fly from Cape Town to Johannesburg and then to Durban. Three airports, three wheelchairs and 24 hours later, he drove himself to Hillcrest hospital for an X-ray to find out he had a broken leg.”

“In December 2016, Anthony fell at Turffontein and again, was discharged by the on course doctor. He drove to the airport, caught a plane back to Durban and then drove himself to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a broken collar bone that had to have a plate put in two days later. In 2017, he fell at Greyville. The medic put the stethoscope over the body protector and wondered why he couldn’t hear anything. And then he was sent home with a concussion,” continues Candice.

During the international meeting a few years ago, S’manga Khumalo was similarly left on the track for far too long before being attended to. Then there was the debacle over the Jarred Samuel incident at Greyville. We’ve just seen Gavin Lerena seriously injured in a fall at Turffontein and while that was handled effectively, mainly thanks to the intervention of Gavin’s family, it is clear that Anthony’s case was not.

Candice says, “I am angry, disappointed and feel let down by our racing authorities at how our jockeys are treated. If we can produce world class riders that hold their own all over the world, surely they deserve world class support?”

Time of the essence

South Africa are world leaders and out of the box thinkers in many fields – there is nothing to stop us doing the same here. While nothing can undo the events of 7 April, it is entirely possible to improve things going forward.

It is accepted that the time it takes an injured person to receive appropriate action after an accident has a direct influence on not only their immediate survival, but also on their recovery time. The first three minutes are critical and the first hour post trauma is commonly referred to as the ‘golden hour’ as it is a vital treatment window that can dictate whether a patient lives or dies – and if they do live, what that their quality of life will be.

While we cannot control accidents, we can control how they are dealt with. There should be clear, accepted and above all, standardised emergency protocols.

The first response should be immediate. There is no point in having an ambulance follow riders and having support staff on site if they cannot get to a stricken jockey fast enough. Every moment wasted is a potential life-saving opportunity lost.

On-site support needs to be of the highest standard and the chain of communication has to be effective to ensure appropriate treatment at the hospital.

Emergency details should be on hand at all times. A severely injured or unconscious jockey may not be able to communicate their emergency contacts or details.

There should be a line of communication to next of kin and emergency contacts, as well as relevant media to relieve strain on family members.

Nice to Haves

Candice recalls Anthony being injured during his stint in Hong Kong where the HKJC sent a car to drive her to the hospital and back every day and had a member of staff stationed outside Anthony’s hospital room until he was discharged, to ensure he was well taken care of.

While it will be argued that we are not Hong Kong, there is plenty that can be done to make a difficult process easier both for our jockeys as well as for their families.

Candice had to secure her own transfer from Durban to Joburg, she has had to hire a car, book into a hotel, buy meals and spend a fortune on airtime communicating with all Anthony’s family, friends and well wishers. While these are necessary consequences, not everyone has the same resources. Would it not make life a lot easier and less stressful having a specific point of contact and some kind of budget / contingency planning available for incidents like these?

While there have been a number of people who have been an invaluable support, Candice says it’s been the little things such as the Lerena family bringing her a curry for dinner one night, or a kind nurse who drove her to a local Pick n Pay to buy toiletries and essentials that have meant a lot. “They’re small things, which aren’t really small things, you know?” she says quietly. I blink hard and nod silently over the lump in my throat.

When you know better, do better

Candice confirms that Anthony is still in hospital recovering, but says he is getting stronger and better every day and thanks everyone for their on-going love and support. But now that he is out of immediate danger, she is focussing on the bigger picture. “This is not just about us, but now that it has happened, it’s our responsibility to see that something gets done. We are lucky that Anthony is a senior jockey and we have the resources and infrastructure to cope with something like this, but what about the rest? The younger guys who are still getting established and all the hard-working guys who are a little more under the radar? If this is how Anthony, our National Champion Jockey, is treated, what chance does anyone else have? We have to realise, we are playing with people’s lives here. Things have to be sorted out.”

Being proactive in improving the status quo could quite literally save lives. It cannot wait. Horse racing is an extraordinary sport with extraordinary risks. We cannot have ordinary support services.

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31 comments on “Enough Is Enough

  1. Chris Swart says:

    My sincere condolences Candice.
    There is zero empathy in corporate leadership and responsibility in this instance and others.
    To treat a champion that earns them millions in takings a day is a damn disgrace.

    As I mentioned previously, change requires shock and pain.
    You’re not going to change bad behaviour unless you’re shocked into adjustment and in all likelihood will revert to the norm in time.
    I’ll take obesity and a heart attack as an example.

    What is required here is a massive legal claim lodged for the negligence that will shake their investors and share price, then their suits might take action to prevent this absolute shocking detail to attention.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. They can’t muzzle everyone and opinion.
    They’ve presided over fraud, financial scandals and bankruptcy with wilful abandon for rules and regulations.
    Barends needs to go and the rest of the green, yellow and black need to follow him with the only honourable thing they might ever do in their lives and resign with him.


  2. Lindy says:

    I was at the race meeting when both accidents happened with Gavin and Anthony and saw the debarcle with the loading of both jockeys into the ambulance .Then read the article where Phumelela are satisfied with there protocols I can only say that this organization is run by a bunch of clowns and all need to ask who are they fooling

  3. Leonie Ermacora says:

    Candice reading this full story is shocking .. shocking that the SA champ is not paralyzed ! By the incompetence of medical staff. The golden hour is imperative in any major injury. Ants had to endure so much while his life hung in the balance. It’s a miracle he’s ok. IT HAS TO STOP. The laxness of every avenue .. if Candice was on course it would have been easier with medical etc. there should be something put in place the jockey club has every detail. What if he was allergic to something ???? I saw the ambulance drive past and shouted in my lounge .. what you doing !! Go back !!! I been there I know this feeling. My husband was misdiagnosed broken collar bone to if I never insisted he goes to hospital now !! They would have sent him home. And that was 14 yrs ago !!!! Come on !!! 14 years later and this is still the cenario. NOT ON. Candice many are behind you on this and something must be done before A jock dies of negligence !!!

    1. jc lee ching says:

      I agree, this is a sad state of affairs and someone must take a stand

  4. Thurlo says:

    Wow in a multi million rand industry this is shocking.. surely this should be regarded as a injury on duty case.. what I find startling is that jockeys are not flown to hospital immediately… irrespective of how small or insignificant it may seem it should be protocol… doesn’t not matter who the jockey is..the racing industry should be responsible for the safety of every jockey or handler partaking in any race days meeting… i am stund and shocked and as it’s a top jockey that’s treated with so much CONTEMPT… racing in this country should be immediately stopped until such time the proper procedures and safety measures are in place… as a avid racehorse this is something we do not want to see happen again ..wishing the champ a speedy recovery… from a very sad shocked and very angry dispondent racegoer…

  5. Jonathan Shaw says:

    Wishing you a full recovery Ant …

  6. Leonie says:

    The scary cenario is what if there’s a few jocks falling at one incidence what on earth happens then what if they all need immediate care and this happens with one !

  7. Roy $ says:

    Surely this is high risk sport every medical detail should be on hand as protocol.

    Racing in South Africa needs a WAKE UP CALL… Now ….NOT in 2 week’s time!!!!!

  8. Brian says:

    Sad it is indeed. Another aspect which is indicative of the state of racing. I notice there has still been no answer from Phumelela as to why it took so long for the ambulance to respond, besides the fact that it was half way to Witbank of course.

    This does call for serious action. Jockey strike has been put forward. Easy for me to say, I’m not a jockey so my income won’t be affected. Litigate against them.. That needs a lot of money and time and stress. Surely someone in the legal profession who loves horse racing can put a team together pro bona.

    The best is to take a leaf out of the struggle days.

    Punters should boycott. I am but I’m like a mosquito on an Elephant.

    It was hard for the first three meetings but I’m glad.

    Somethings got to give and I don’t want it to be a Jockey or a horse.

    Come on punters.

    Ed, maybe this is a good time to get controversial. I don’t think they were going to do a deal in the Cape anyhow.

    1. Chris Swart says:

      I can think of one that previously posted an article on the legality of Mayfair that might.

      It’s really up to the injured and aggrieved to pursue it. Believe you me, they’ll get bullied and intimidated but every Plc has to declare a law suit against them that will affect the price of shares.
      They might have insurance but shareholders seeing poor oversight and negligence are not going to remain on board

    2. Rian says:

      Im with you Brian, no more bets from me till you give the go ahead

  9. Donna Hirse says:

    On 16 November 2017 Jockey Chase Maujean was brought down and sustained a broken Femur. He was left to lie on the course because no ambulance was available. So this the 3rd serious accident sustained by a Jockey and the medical attention was seriously lacking.

  10. Daiyaan says:

    I was at the races for both the incidents/falls. Gavin was on the floor for about 20mins before the ambulance managed to finds its way to him!!!! Anthony came down at more or less the same spot and they took just as long . I think the jockeys need to stand up here and take their lives into their hands. Don’t ride if the appropriate medical personnel are not suitably qualified to attend to a them at any venue. All companies have a medical file that needs updating and validation for each project. So should all the racing venues, a file needs to be created for the meeting of that day with all the medical personnel listed and it should be signed by the jockeys and stipes before each meeting !!!!
    Wishing both jockeys a speedy and successful recovery. All the best to the families and their support structures!!!!!

  11. Don says:

    did the control tower not have radio connection with the medics in the ambulance?

  12. Glendyr Pirija says:

    Must say I find it extremely interesting that no-one involved with Racing has the balls to publicly speak Truth to Power irt Phumelela. Much more to the convoluted Phumelela saga than meets the public eye. Bit like Steinhoff. This must be a first. All strength and respect to you Candice Delpeche and I wish your husband a strong recovery. Sue the bastards.

  13. Peter Dembitzer says:

    This is just another disaster in a long, long list of Phumelela disasters. Not one meeting runs on time, countless horses scratched at the start(usually favourites) or have their shoes replaced. Jockeys unwilling to ride, and having countless meetings abandoned, where past SA jockeys and UK jockeys would never consider it. As long as jockeys control racing and not the stipes you have the free for all run by amateurs, Phumelela. Having owned horses years ago, this is by far the worst it has ever been, yet the same failed personnel continue at Phumelela.

  14. Loraine Karam says:

    To Candice Delpech My heart bleeds for you, this whole saga honestly saddens me. Please let me know if you would like to take and fetch you from hospital. Paul Karam my sin and i will be available to do this for you on a daily basis, Candice i know what you are going through, but you seem to be a strong young lady, and your special husband is at least on the mend. You can what-sup Paul on 0846164663. Candice i honestly mean that we are prepared to transport you every day starting today.
    We have been through a lot of trauma, and i am so sad for Anthony and Gavin. Maybe you just need to talk to someone as you are away from your family. Please be strong Candice your husband needs you to be strong. Loraine Karam

  15. Marlon sing says:

    You no what candice I agree with you 101% ,not going to go over what has already been told in all the messages,but have certain point directed straight to phumelela,nhra and the rest of the goonies involved in this industry 1st. When a jockey arrives at a racecourse all his details should be handed to the chief medical officer (eg: medical aid card,I. D ect copies )so if in a instant like this paper work is readily available take for ezam please if you were not available it could have been a risk for our champion not being treated cause all hospitals now require documentation or cash even before they can start treating a patient (well that part is our government)2nd Phumelela should have acted more responsibly and had Anthony accompanied to hospital via means of being escorted or even someone senior accompany cause it was clear they felt there wasn’t a need for a helicopter.
    Lastly NHRA NEEDS A TOTAL REVAMP i am personally going to get the government to intervene in this and I promise I will within the next few weeks.

    Reason being I cannot stand to see something like this happening ever again my heart sank after reading how Candice spoke from her heart and soul and if nobody hears what candice is bringing out in this whole incident then this game is just a MONEY MAKING SCHEME it will clearly show NOBODY CARES ABOUT HUMAN AND EQUINE.

    God be with Anthony “my champ”Delpech he will be better soon.I pray everyday for Anthony and candice and the kids and the extended family god be with them through this difficult time.

    On a much liter note I got Anthony’s interview were he cried after his son asked him to win the championship and that year he did it.

    Miss you champ

    God bless
    Marlon sing

    1. Chris Swart says:

      Forensic audit.

      Where and for what has the CEO used his company expense account card ?

  16. Trevor says:

    . A jockey is not a normal 9 to 5 job , it’s a profession, they in the limelight of the public of thousands of people all over the world , not only in South Africa. In the same breath as the racing public expects all jockeys to conduct themself in a professional manner by doing there best on every mount they put a leg over . The public demand that the racing authorities like the RA , NHRA ,RACE COURSE MEDICAL STAFF AND AMBULANCE SERVICES look after our professional jockeys as they would look after other professional sportsman be them a soccer player , rugby player or cricketer. I feel there are far too little MEDICAL STAFF at the racecourse and I honestly feel that more pedimedics need to be employed and are waiting on the sides of the race tracks to make sure that they can treat a jockey straight away as soon as a incident happens . Look at any rugby match on tv and see how many pedimedics are on the sidelines .
    My opinion is racing is a dying horse . The state of the TURFFONTEIN RACE COURSE is absolutely a disgrace as the reason for racing being abandoned on Saturday but why must a thoroughbred lose it life first ( GHOST TOWN RACE 6 ) before the racing authorities make a decision to stop racing . The last 3 serious incidents all happened at TURFFONTEIN RACE COURSE and now we have two great jockeys on the sidelines and potentially one super star race horse dead .
    THE racing authorities are just like are corrupt government and don’t care about anyone but there fat pockets.
    Disgruntled punter
    T G basson

  17. Bertie says:

    I blame the medics
    They are the ones that should decide what equipment and protocols are in place – refuse to do the job if the “bosses” don’t comply.
    Anyway, how do you “diagnose” concussion when a jockey falls at 60 km /hour from a height of 2 meters, and complains of pains in his hands and feet and at a later stage paraesthesia in his limbs?

  18. Ernest says:

    What the heck are you trying to say \\\\\\\\\\\Dane whoever???

  19. Paulo says:

    Ed…I am all for freedom of speech but is this “Dane” for real? or am I misunderstanding the insinuations? Your mediation or curation of posts shouldn’t allow this kind of post in this context. Bad Taste

    1. Editor says:

      Reviewed that post and on reflection agree with your sentiment Paolo.

      Thanks for pointing that out.

  20. Paul says:

    Another good article Robyn! The press release – replete as ever with the usual platitudes but no real detail – speaks to “Medical Operating Procedures”: in the spirit of transparency, can those please be made available. Then we can see exactly what MOP’s were in place at the time of the incident and judge deficiencies and deviations.
    Surely there should be a suitably qualified Medical Practitioner present at each raceday, whose sole responsibility is to manage any incidents – from checking that all jocks have been passed fit, medical and insurance details are on hand, ensure quick response, manage care at the incident, accompany jock to the Hospital, act as liaison with Hospital and family, etc. There must be retired Emergency/Trauma Docs out there willing to take this on and earn extra bucks.

  21. Robert says:

    I have to agree with Candice, very unprofessional by the authorities at the racecourse and the tellytrack presenters as well. They kept showing reruns of the race, clearly showing Anthony lying on the track, which I believe was very insensitive on their part. Health & safety should always be priority in all facets of horseracing. As for the hospital staff, whoever suggested that Anthony be discharged should be fired and never be allowed to work in that environment again!!
    Wishing Anthony everything of the best in his recovery, and the same to Candice & family.

  22. René Elk says:

    We wish Anthony a speedy recovery and to Candice, well said! May this sad incident be an eye opener for the Racing Fraternity to get their house in order and prioritize. The hard working jockeys bringing home the bacon, deserves only the best, in all aspects. From the jockey at the Academy to our Champion Jockeys,

  23. Peppy Naidoo says:

    Wow, this insight is really amazing to know how our champions are treated.
    I think that Candice is a champion her self for bringing these issues to our attention which are obviously unacceptable.
    Please know that we support you in your endeavors to change things.

  24. Lance says:

    The way we as human beings treat each other, in this specific aspect as well as others IS NOT.OK !
    Many of us have heard the saying….doing the same thing over and over is insanity and the only constant in life is change.I certainly hope something will change regarding the numerous examples stated by Candice.
    Take a percentage of the pools,allocate that for ‘change so the injured can get the best medical attention immediately,the remaining figure can be taxed and the invested amount will secure interest so irrespective of what the circumstances are the people concerned,namely the authorities can provide whatever it is,the small things that make a huge difference.
    Wishing you a speedy recovery Anthony and wow if people just stood up in general like Candice has done for Anthony and the other jockeys I have no doubt we’d live in a much better world.
    It’s time to step up, it’s NOT OK to just accept things that is against one’s own integrity.

  25. Rene Elk says:

    Well said Lance! When the jockeys bring home the bacon for all parties and suddenly gets badly injured with an accident, only fair to look after that jockey, his wife and immediate family. To ensure, they get the best comfort, treatment and support. That goes for the loyal horses after delivering a handsome purse to Owners, Trainers etc. I agree with your suggestion and want to go even further and say, create a Slush Fund for incidents like this. With Revenue Income and Pick 6 Carry overs, i am sure, the interest revenues can be used towards the above and not only cover the daily overheads…..



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