‘He died competing in a sport he loved’: point-to-point jockey dies after fall

  • A point-to-point jockey has died as a result of a fall while racing on Saturday (1 April).

    James McNeile, from Devizes, Wiltshire, fell in the 3.45pm race at the Larkhill point-to-point course. The 57-year-old collided with a fence, sustaining a serious head injury.

    He was attended immediately by on-site medics, including consultants in emergency medicine, intensive care and anaesthetics.

    “It was immediately apparent that this was a substantial brain injury and after stabilisation he was flown by air ambulance to Southampton Hospital,” said a statement the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF).

    The statement, issued by the IJF on behalf of Mr McNeile’s family, added: “On arrival and after subsequent examination, it became apparent that the degree of brain damage was such that this was not a survivable injury.

    “James deteriorated over night and died peacefully on Sunday.

    “James died competing in a sport he loved, and around which he had built his life and some wonderful friendships.”

    A joint statement was issued this afternoon (3 April) by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), Point-to-Point Authority (PPA), Larkhill point-to-point racecourse and the committee of the Avon Vale Hunt.

    “We are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news regarding the fatal injury incurred by James McNeile,” said the statement.

    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 statement adds the BHA and PPA work in conjunction with all racecourses to ensure the highest welfare standards are met.

    Point-to-point racecourses have local course inspectors, who report to the BHA’s course inspectors who periodically visit those courses.

    Larkhill was last visited by a BHA course inspector within the last two weeks and was assessed as compliant with all the necessary standards.

    “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 statement continues.

    “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 was 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.”

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