Irish jump jockey Kieran Kelly, who suffered severe head injuries in a fall last Friday, died on Tuesday night in a Dublin hospital. He was 25.
Kelly had been critically ill on a life support machine after being kicked on the head and rolled on when his mount Balmy Native fell in a steeplechase at Kilbeggan
A native of Carbury, County Kildare, Kelly worked for the Curragh trainer Dessie Hughes, who provided him with his greatest victory on Hardy Eustace in the Royal & Sun Alliance Hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Leinster was another big winner for them at the Aintree Grand National Festival.
Kelly is the first fatality on an Irish racecourse for over 20 years. The last professional jump jockey to be killed in action in Britain was Richard Davis at Southwell in 1996. Before that Philip Barnard, in 1991 at Wincanton, and Vivien Kennedy, in 1988 at Huntingdon.
A minute’s silence was observed at all five British meetings on Wednesday and Thursday’s Irish fixture at Tramore has been postponed until Monday as a mark of respect.
Top flat jockey Richard Hughes, son of Kelly’s boss, returns to Ireland to attend Friday’s mass for Kelly at Derrinturn Church, Co Kildare. He said: “Dad is deeply upset. It is a great loss not just for Kieran’s family but for everyone at the yard, too. Kieran never had a bad word to say about anyone and he was turning into a top class jockey as well.”
Champion jump jockey Tony McCoy said: “My first thoughts, and those of all the jockeys in Britain, must go to his family, his girlfriend and his boss, Dessie Hughes at such a terrible time.”