The jockey’s compensation poses a problem for the rider’s liability in the Freddy Tylicki case
The body which represents professional jockeys in Ireland is unable to obtain compensation insurance for its members and believes this could present a fundamental problem for racing.
The issue of riders’ compensation insurance has come to the fore following the Â£ 6million High Court case in England brought by jockey Freddy Tylicki against his former colleague Graham Gibbons.
Tylicki was left paralyzed in a fall at Kempton in October 2016 and claimed that there had been a “violation of the standard of care” between the competing jockeys, which resulted in his mount colliding with a horse ridden by Gibbons.
Gibbons’ defense rejected this and said a ruling against him could “open the floodgates” for similar claims in the future.
A verdict is expected before Christmas.
The Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) in Great Britain has compensation coverage for its members, but its equivalent in Ireland, the Irish Jockeys Association (IJA), does not.
Former champion jockey Ruby Walsh recently predicted that every runner here will have to take cover if Tylicki succeeds.
On Tuesday, IJA Secretary Andrew Coonan backed Walsh’s concerns and said he believed racing authorities on both sides of the Irish Sea had failed to understand the importance of the case, whatever the outcome.
“I think the Tylicki case will raise a lot of questions for consideration, including the fact that in any stewardship decision where a rider is deemed to have ridden recklessly for example, can that in itself potentially give rise to a claim from another rider or owner or trainer of a horse that has suffered interference or injury?
“And that for me is a very broad implication to that and which in my opinion has probably not been fully addressed or assessed by the governing bodies of this jurisdiction or the UK,” he commented.
âIn the past we have had cases where runners have sued racetracks for injuries they sustained and were able to overcome them.
âWe now have a very real situation where a runner is suing another runner for very serious injuries he suffered. If this case succeeds, and even if it does not succeed, that still does not prevent that at some point, a court may very well decide that a rider is responsible, âadded Coonan.
Coonan, a lawyer and former amateur jockey, said the IJA has repeatedly requested insurance compensation similar to the PJA, but was unable to obtain it.
âI always looked at this with my lawyer hat on and felt there was a need to put professional liability insurance coverage in place for runners. The difficulty in obtaining this indemnity coverage is now considerable and any claim makes it more expensive of course, âhe said.
âWe checked with many insurance companies for this. Through our British colleagues (PJA), we even tried to use the same broker as them and we were not able to get insurance coverage, âhe added.
Coonan said the Jockeys Association has been trying to sort out the issue since a case taken in Britain 20 years ago by former jockey Peter Caldwell.
He was injured in a fall at Hexham in 1994 and filed a lawsuit against Adrian Maguire and Mick Fitzgerald.
The judge in that case ruled in favor of the defendants and ruled that the incident “reflected the stroke and attack of serious horse racing. . . in theory avoidable, but in practice something that will happen from time to time no matter how careful the level of driving is.
Whatever the outcome of the Tylicki case, Coonan believes it will highlight the indemnity coverage risk for insurance companies versus runners.
âIt’s not that this case raises problems. There have always been problems. It’s just that this case has brought them to light, âhe said.
Wednesday’s racing action in Ireland takes place in all weather at Dundalk where Tony Martin can land the first contender with Nibiru.
Team Martin appear to be in good shape recently, winning with the well-supported Gain De Cause over hurdles at Punchestown on Sunday.