Responding to the sad news of the fatal injury incurred by James McNeile at Larkhill Point to Point on Saturday 1 April, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Point to Point Authority (PPA), Larkhill Point to Point racecourse and the Committee of the Avon Vale Hunt issued the following joint statement:
“We are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news regarding the fatal injury incurred by James McNeile. First and foremost, our thoughts are with his family and friends. The world of horseracing, be it amateur or professional, is a closely knit community and the entire sport will come together in mourning over this sad accident.
“Racing wouldn’t exist without the riders and the horses and that’s why it’s essential that together we are always looking for ways to protect the stars that are at the centre of our much loved sport. The BHA and Point to Point Authority work in conjunction with all racecourses to ensure that the highest standards are met across all aspects of welfare. Tragic incidents such as this are exceptionally rare. However, for athletes competing in any sport, there is an element of risk that cannot be wholly removed.
“The medical facilities at Larkhill racecourse on Saturday were fully compliant with the required standards and included three racecourse doctors and two fully equipped ambulances with fully trained paramedics. The medical team were treating Mr McNeile within moments of his fall and swiftly ascertained the need for an air ambulance. Despite the immediate and extended medical attention the injuries were of such an extent that it was not possible to save his life, and James passed away peacefully in hospital the following day.
“What is important is that, from any incident such as this is, we do all that we can to understand what caused it, and then see if there is anything we can learn from the incident. These processes are already under way. All relevant bodies will also assist the police force with any enquiries they may wish to make, and assist the racecourse to carry out a full review of the incident.”
Notes to Editors
1. Point to Point racing is amateur jump racing, open to amateur riders and horses in ownership of members of an affiliated Hunt.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is responsible for the governance, administration and regulation of the sport and industry of horseracing in Great Britain and to govern, regulate, promote, administer and organise horseracing in Great Britain.
Within its role in horseracing, the BHA is also responsible for the governance, administration and regulation of Point-to-Point racing.
The Point to Point Authority (PPA) has been established to carry out the governance functions, including carrying out strategic planning and administration in respect of Point-to-Point on the BHA’s behalf.
2. Prior to James McNeile, there have been six recorded fatalities from Point to Point racing in Britain in the last 42 years since 1975.
3. The 2016/2017 Point to Point fixture list runs from November to June and includes 182 fixtures.
4. The certification for amateur riders to participate in Point to Point racing is provided by the affiliated Hunt committee. The standards for medical fitness to ride for Point to Point riders is managed by the BHA. The medical standards expected of amateur riders are the same as those expected of professional jockeys and include a full medical assessment every five years and a yearly health declaration, plus any known injuries undergoing full assessment before return to riding is approved.
5. Point to Point racecourses have local course inspectors who report in to the BHA’s course inspectors, and are visited by BHA inspectors on a periodical basis. Larkhill was visited by a BHA course inspector within the last two weeks and was assessed as compliant with all the necessary racecourse standards.
British Horseracing Authority: Robin Mounsey, Head of Media, 0207 152 0048, email@example.com
Point to Point Authority: Clare Hazell, Chief Executive, 07501 452817 firstname.lastname@example.org
Larkhill racecourse: Suzie Vickery, Clerk of the Course, 07971 207153 email@example.com
Injured Jockeys Fund: Liz Ampairee, 07733 331945, firstname.lastname@example.org