Freddy Tylicki is seeking millions of pounds in potential damages from an ex-rival he accuses of having a “reckless disregard” for his safety by allegedly causing a fall that left him partially paralysed.
Tylicki suffered “life-changing” injuries when he was trampled after falling from his mount Nellie Deen during the 3.20pm race at Kempton Park racecourse in Surrey on October 31 2016, the High Court was told.
Now a permanent wheelchair user, Mr Tylicki is suing Graham Gibbons in a bid to hold him liable over the incident during the one-mile fillies’ maiden on the all-weather track.
If his court case is successful, his lawyers say an assessment of damages will be needed, with the claim “worth several million pounds”.
His lawyers argue that Mr Gibbons, who denies riding negligently, manoeuvred his horse Madame Butterfly into the path of Mr Tylicki’s mount that was running into a gap between his horse and the running rail at the edge of the track.
They claim that Mr Gibbons must have known Mr Tylicki was “up the inner” and if not, should have checked, before allegedly making the move that saw the horses collide and Nellie Deen to fall.
At the opening of a trial at the High Court in London on Monday, Mr Tylicki’s barrister Lord Faulks QC said: “The claimant argues that during the race the defendant rode negligently or contrary to the rules of racing which caused the claimant’s horse to fall, causing the claimant serious damage.”
He added: “We say that Graham Gibbons was aware of Freddy Tylicki and certainly should have been aware when he made the move that he undoubtedly did.”
Lord Faulks explained the “unusual” incident in which four jockeys fell, occurred as riders reached a right-hand bend before the course’s home straight, as Mr Tylicki attempted to move into the inside gap.
As the horses grew closer, Lord Faulks said there was a period of around “11 strides” where Mr Gibbons “must have been aware that the claimant’s horse was there”.
In written submissions, he said Mr Tylicki shouted in warning “Gibbo” during the incident but alleged Mr Gibbons “takes no action to move away from a collision, and rather keeps steering into it”.
Lord Faulks added that it was not suggested that Mr Gibbons set out “deliberately to injure” Mr Tylicki or “actively intended that Nellie Deen would fall”, but that he rode “without any due regard for the consequences of his manoeuvre”.
He alleged that “the degree of his carelessness over several seconds of riding was either deliberate and/or sufficiently careless as to meet the legal test for professional negligence in the particular circumstances of his race”.
Lord Faulks told the hearing that when Mr Tylicki fell he was trampled by following horses, spent four months in hospital and is now paraplegic.
Despite this he continues to work in the racing industry as a TV commentator, the court was told.
Lord Faulks added: “He is determined that he will not let this injury ruin his life.”
He told the court that a stewards’ inquiry held on the day found the incident had been accidental but argued that they “concluded their inquiry without knowing the gravity of the injuries”.
“They did not adjourn the inquiry and they did not get any evidence from any of the four jockeys who fell,” he said.
TV footage of the incident, recorded from different angles, was played to the court on Monday.
In written submissions, Mr Gibbons’ lawyer Patrick Lawrence QC said he “firmly denied” that he was “guilty of any form of carelessness or misjudgement”.
He said that there is “no evidence that justifies even a finding that Mr Gibbons was unacceptably careless” and “no evidence that comes anywhere near showing that Mr Gibbons’ conduct was sufficiently egregious to warrant tortious liability being imposed”.
“This was a racing incident which had tragic consequences but which does not found a tortious claim for compensation,” he added.
Mr Tylicki and Mr Gibbons are both expected to give evidence during the trial.
The hearing before Judge Karen Walden-Smith, which is expected to last five days, continues.