‘We’ll miss you terribly’: passionate, hardworking and thoughtful rider dies in fall

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  • A young rider who was passionate about his job and “one of our best” has died as a result of a point-to-point fall.

    A statement from the Injured Jockeys Fund said: “It is with deep sadness that we have to report that West Country point-to-point rider Keagan Kirkby, 25, has died following a fall at Charing point-to-point in Kent today.”

    The IJF said the horse Keagan was riding, who was locally trained, ran out through the wing of a fence on the second circuit of the final race.

    “The on-course medical team attended immediately and despite additional support from a 999 helicopter emergency services crew, he could not be saved,” the spokesman said.

    “Keagan was a respected member of the Paul Nicholls team, who joined in 2019 and who had been awarded employee of the month in December 2021. He was shortlisted for the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards in the rider/groom category 2024.

    “We kindly ask that everyone respects the privacy of Keagan’s family and the team at Paul Nicholls Racing at this tragic time.”

    Paul said: “Life is so hard sometimes, winners totally insignificant compared to what has happened today . Sadly Keagan Kirby, one of our best, hardworking lads, lost his life today riding in a point-to-point. All at Team Ditcheat are mortified. Thoughts with all his friends and family.”

    He added: “He was passionate about his job and his riding and rode Afadil every day. Last thing he said to me on Friday was ‘Boss, Afadil will win tomorrow.’ How right he was. RIP Keag, we will all miss you terribly.”

    British Horseracing Authority chief executive Julie Harrington said the authority was “devastated to hear the tragic news”.

    “Our thoughts are with his family and friends, and everyone at the yard of Paul Nicholls,” she said. “The entire racing industry will be in mourning at the loss of someone so young and with such potential.

    “The esteem in which he was held is clear from the fact that he was nominated for the rider/groom category of the 2024 Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards, and made it through to the final 10 in his category. The nomination spoke of Keagan’s qualities as a thoughtful rider who develops a personal bond with his horses, understands their characters and adapts his riding accordingly, as well as his affable, helpful nature and popularity on the yard.

    “We call on everyone to respect the privacy of Keagan’s family and the Paul Nicholls yard.”

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