At last one of racing’s longest financial battles is over. Back in November 2006 television viewers saw jockey Philip Hide fall from his mount Hatch A Plan just after the first hurdle in a race at Cheltenham when his horse stumbled. The commentary described Hide as “crashing to earth” as he clattered into the base of a post that formed part of the running rail.
The fall left the jockey with a fractured pelvis and a left hip that was so badly damaged, he had to be put into a coma whilst doctors rebuilt it. Hide did recover sufficiently to return to the saddle, but gave up riding in 2010 after piloting home over 400 winners in a career lasting almost 20 years. Since then he has had the hip replaced.
Last year he sued Jockey Club Racecourses, claiming that the injuries would have been less severe had the post not been there. Although he was initially unsuccessful, an appeal saw the judgement overturned and Hide was awarded £58,000 in damages. Three High Court judges accepted that the accident was not at all likely to happen, acknowledged that jump racing is a dangerous sport, but above all found that such an accident could have been foreseen, and was therefore preventable.
Hide’s lawyer, Christopher Sharp QC argued at the appeal, “Quite simply, this accident was manifestly foreseeable. It happens. Horses fall at hurdles; jockeys get thrown off in any direction. If you are travelling at that sort of speed - 25 or 30 mph - you are going to get injured. There was no need for this hurdle to be where it was.”
Since then, JCR have sought leave to appeal the High Court decision, but learned yesterday they will not be able to do so, decision which, in a statement issued by Cheltenham, clerk of the course Simon Claisse said, “We are surprised and disappointed at the outcome of our application to the Supreme Court for permission to appeal the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in the Hide case.”
They shouldn’t be. Whilst Hide was reluctant to bring a case for a long time, as it says on his website, though not by Hide himself, “the impact of the injury is only going to get worse. £58,000 is a significant amount of money in compensation, but it is by no means a ridiculous amount to receive given he has been left with a lifelong disability.”