Fairview Accident Highlights Possible Oversight Shortcomings

Generous benefactor steps up to the plate

In what has been an unrelated spate of accidents in recent weeks, Sandile Khathi is the latest jockey to fall victim to the omnipresent dangers associated with race-riding.

The accident, in which the journeyman rider fractured his clavicle, has also highlighted potential shortcomings in the supervision and oversight of the jockey medical care process.

Sandile Khathi – fortunate escape but fractured clavicle means at least six weeks on sidelines (Pic – Pauline Herman)

Khathi came down in the third race at Fairview on Tuesday when his mount Celtic Vixen clipped the heels of Gideon’s Daughter (Richard Fourie) and fell.

Celtic Vixen was racing near the rear and ran onto the heels of Fourie’s mount, with both horse and rider hitting the poly as one in a perfect extension – literally in the blink of an eye.

Immediately afterwards, the Montana Turner-trained filly apparently pulled up lame on the left fore.

Khathi was reported conscious and stable, with the possibility of concussion.

But this is where an already unfortunate incident possibly goes further wrong.

The official Stipes report advises that an investigation has been opened into whether the provisions of Rules 23.1; 23.2 and Appendix H have been met by Jockey Khathi following information received in relation to him being admitted to hospital.

The Sporting Post has learnt that Khathi was apparently riding without valid medical cover, and some confusion arose in the ‘casevac’ process, with the possibility arising of him having to be treated in a government hospital.

While Government hospitals provide a service, they often have backlogs at emergency centres.

Private care, in contrast, can accommodate patients far more expeditiously and emergency treatment is prioritised according to the severity of the condition.

A benefactor, who chooses to remain anonymous, stepped up to guarantee the deposit for Khathi’s admission to a private medical facility.

The generous racing man told the Sporting Post that it was intended as a gesture of goodwill to the hardworking jockey and his family, and for the better good of racing. He conceded at the same instance, that he was surprised to hear that jockeys can ride without medical cover.

While it is clearly the responsibility of every rider to ensure that he has medical cover, the National Horseracing Authority only verify the validity thereof on renewal of licences.

The timing of that system surely creates the potential for a window of failure?

Like countless South Africans, many jockeys are living under the pressures of the ever -spiralling costs of living, and the decision, if such arises, of whether to put a meal on the table or pay a medical aid premium, may not even be a question.

A Fairview regular told the Sporting Post that the post accident next-of-kin referral is also not ideal, and that jockeys should not be riding on any racecourse without family contact details being readily available.

A designated official should surely be assigned to deal properly with any information that needs to be disseminated. This was highlighted at a previous accident at the same centre.

Let’s hope that Sandile recovers quickly, and that a solution can be found to improve the process for these professional sportsmen who put their lives on the line every time the gates fly open. Bottom line, no medical cover, no ride.

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