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`Careless riding by star duo wrecked jockey's career' Caldwell counsel blames Maguire and Fitzgerald for injuries.

The careless riding of Mick Fitzgerald and Adrian Maguire caused a "terrible" accident which left fellow jockey Peter Caldwell with a broken back, the High Court in Manchester heard yesterday.

In a landmark case, Grand National winner Fitzgerald and Maguire are being sued because, it is alleged, their actions in a race at Hexham in September 1994 wrecked Caldwell's career.

Caldwell, 36, smashed his spine and sustained a serious head injury while

riding in the Tentec Bolting Technology Novices' Hurdle over two miles.

Former seven-time champion jockey and TV pundit John Francome was among those in court as a video of the race was shown to Mr Justice Holland by Caldwell's lawyer, Lord Brennan QC, in what is the first case of a jockey suing colleagues over their riding in a race.

The legal action centres on an incident which resulted in Fitzgerald and Maguire both receiving three-day suspensions after being found guilty of careless riding by the local stewards.

Maguire, aboard eventual winner Master Hyde, and Fitzgerald, on Mr Bean, were duelling for the lead approaching the final hurdle when, it is alleged, they cut across to the rail and caused Derek Byrne, close up on their inside on Royal Citizen, to be unseated.

As Byrne hit the turf, Fion Corn, partnered by Caldwell and following behind, stumbled and sent the jockey crashing to the ground, where he lay unconscious before being taken to hospital. Lord Brennan told the court it was accepted that National Hunt racing was a dangerous sport and that

accidents frequently occur. But he said that Caldwell's fall was caused by Fitzgerald and Maguire crossing in front of Byrne's mount.

"As far as we can see, neither Fitzgerald nor Maguire ever looked to the inside when they performed the manoeuvre. They went for the rail regardless," said Lord Brennan.

"The rule of racing is, and it's common sense really, that if you cross you must keep a look out and make sure it is safe to cross another horse.

"If you don't keep a look out and if you cross too early, the risk is not just of interfering with horses on the inside, but causing a terrible accident, which happened here, when the claimant broke his back and suffered a serious head injury."

Lord Brennan said the defence claimed each rider was "literally jockeying for position" and not negligent. He said that the defence also alleged the accident occurred because of a mistake by Byrne when he tried to accelerate into a gap between the rail and the horses on his outside.

But, continued Lord Brennan, both Fitzgerald and Maguire said they did not see Byrne's mount on their inside when they crossed to the rails.

"That is critically important. If that was their state of mind, they carried out the manoeuvre without knowing who was on the inside," he said.

The case continues today.


The defendants Adrian Maguire and Mick Fitzgerald arrive at the High Court in Manchester yesterday
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Dec 13, 2000
Previous Article:You don't expect such an incident - Caldwell.
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