The shocking accident involving SA Champion jockey Anthony Delpech and the fancied Majestic Mambo in Saturday’s Gr1 SA Classic has led to an inquiry being opened by the National Horseracing Authority.
The rather brief reference in the official stipes report that ‘an inquiry will be opened to establish why Jockey A Delpech was dislodged from Majestic Mambo at approximately the 350m’ is a sad and faceless footnote to a risk that faces our jockeys on a daily basis.
The high-riding Delpech, who is a runaway leader on the SA national jockey log and only a fortnight earlier rode SA Derby winner Al Sahem at the Dubai World Cup meeting, was diagnosed with a disc herniation and a damaged spinal cord and underwent an operation in the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning.
An emotional trainer Paul Peter, who saddled Majestic Mambo, said that he was shocked and saddened by the incident.
“Anthony is a true professional and a good friend of ours. This is such a tragedy and a devastating blow. Our best wishes go to him and his family. It just goes to underline again what a dangerous life our jockeys live. Every time they throw their leg over a horse they run the risk of injury. I don’t want to comment on the circumstances of the accident. These things happen. That’s racing.”
As to the condition of Majestic Mambo, Peter said that his charge was shaken but had no physical damage.
“This kind of incident can be a psychologically traumatic event for a horse and I have kept him off the track for a few days. We will be monitoring him. For now plans are still on track for the SA Derby but that can change,” he added.
Following other accidents, including the recent Gavin Lerena injury, the Sporting Post has written to the racing operators and the NHA in recent months requesting details of the raceday medical protocols. It seems there aren’t any in place.
There were suggestions by leading racing personalities on Saturday that our champion jockey lay on the turf for too long before being attended to.
Why the NHA are not examining this aspect is puzzling – but hardly surprising.
As one top industry player summed it up:
“We are trying to play the role of a first-world racing power with third-world rules and regulations, and matching attitudes and philosophies. What would it mean in the scheme of our industry global spend to have a second ambulance on duty on raceday, as one example? They would rather duck and dive than attend to these fundamental matters of life and death. It’s a disgrace and a shame.”