Freddy Tylicki was the promising jockey who was crowned Champion Apprentice back in 2009. He was employed for a meeting at Kempton Park back in October 2016, and in a one-mile renewal found himself well placed aboard Nellie Deen. With the action heating up, Graham Gibbons – riding the favourite, Madame Butterfly – powered his mount diagonally towards the running rail as he attempted to close off Tylicki’s racing line. That movement caused a coming together that left Tylicki, who is now permanently confined to a wheelchair, severely injured, and the former jockey has brought a £6 million negligence suit against Gibbons.
The case is so serious that it is being heard in the High Court, with Gibbons denying the charges of negligence and causation – claiming the fall suffered by Tylicki was a ‘racing accident’ that sadly ended in tragic consequences. The trial could last as long as five days or more, with jockeys including Ryan Moore, Pat Cosgrave and Jim Crowley likely to be called as first-hand witnesses.
A Question of Survival
Tylicki has sensationally accused Gibbons of trying to ‘wipe him out’ as the hearing gets underway. He claims the defendant in the trial did not respond to his calls that he was advancing on the inside, and that Gibbons breached the duty of care that jockeys owe one another in such a dangerous profession.
His riding on the day has been described as ‘dangerous in the extreme’ by Tylicki, who claimed:
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. The pressure from Mr Gibbons to get back onto the rail just continued, no matter what was in his way.
He also asserts that his rival went ‘beyond’ the maintaining of a racing line, and recalled that as their horses collided ‘I went down and it went black.’ Initially, Gibbons claimed that Tylicki had ‘brought it on himself’ by aiming for a gap on the rail that wasn’t there, and he continues to protest his innocence that there simply was not enough space for his opponent to get through. His defence team described the collision as ‘a racing accident occasioned by the horses coming together, as described, as they travelled at speed around the bend.’
Gibbons’ lawyer, Patrick Lawrence, 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 evidence provided by two eyewitnesses offers a differing take on the incident. Crowley, who provided the court with a statement, said that he was ‘apprehensive’ as he saw the two horses getting closer and closer. Charlie Lane, meanwhile, recalled that if he was a steward on the day, he would have classed the collision as ‘accidental’ rather than something more untoward. The case continues.