A racing photographer has broken his leg in a freak accident at the Cheltenham Festival where he was struck by a racehorse.
The incident happened during the Glenfarclas handicap chase, the cross-country race, yesterday afternoon (Wednesday 11 March).
Patrick McCann of the Racing Post was standing by the running rail photographing the race, when two horses crashed through the rail. Footage shows that he tried to get out of the way, but was struck by one of the horses and was knocked to the floor.
Nina Carberry, who was riding the JP McManus-owned Quantitiveeasing was by the rail approaching the second last race when Any Currency jinked left, causing the favourite Toutancarmont — ridden by Jonathan Plougaou — to jump left, forcing Nina’s mount through the rail.
Mr McCann was taken down in the incident and suffered a “serious leg fracture”.
The photographer was taken to Southmead hospital in Bristol where he is currently recovering.
Mr McCann was treated by doctors at the racecourse before being taken to hospital yesterday evening.
Both horses and jockeys were unhurt.
“Patrick is a regular racing photographer who understands the rules and at the moment, as it reads, we’re not concerned with where he was standing,” said Sophia Brudenell of Cheltenham racecourse.
“The general consensus from other photographers is that this is one of those slightly freak accidents.”
She added that the horse appeared to “brush past” rather than “trample over” Mr McCann but that Cheltenham would be reviewing the incident.
After the race the stewards noted that “Any Currency, who finished second, jinked left approaching the second last fence, causing Toutancarmont to jump left, bumping Quantitiveeasing and causing these two horses to go through the rail, striking a photographer positioned nearby”.
After viewing a recording of the incident stewards were “satisfied that it didn’t involve a riding offence”.
The race was won by 16-1 shot Rivage D’Or securing a double on the day for jockey Davy Russell.
Photographer Bill Selywn, who takes racing photos for H&H agreed Patrick was the “victim of a freak accident”.
“Patrick is a good and experienced photographer,” Bill told H&H. “We obviously need to get the best pictures we can but anything involving horses travelling at speed comes with risks and the photographers and racecourses work closely together to ensure safety for everyone is paramount, but you can’t legislate against accidents like this.”
In March 2012 French photographer Jean-Charles Briens was taken to hospital and treated for facial injuries following an incident during the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Wishfull Thinking fell, crashing through the rails, catching the photographer in the face. However, it was found that Mr Briens was standing too close to the track and had his British press privileges removed for the remainder of the year.