Tributes paid to racing groom who died at Kempton Park

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  • Tributes have been paid to the “hugely enthusiastic and dedicated” racehorse groom who died at Kempton Park on Saturday evening (14 October).

    Ken Dooley, who was in his 50s, sustained a serious head injury while tending to a horse in the stables.

    His employer, West Sussex-based trainer Amanda Perrett, said Mr Dooley was a very experienced employee.

    “It is with huge sadness that I can confirm we lost our friend and colleague Ken Dooley after an incident in the stable yard at Kempton last night,” she said in a statement.

    “Ken had been with us for seven years and was a very special member of our close-knit family business at Coombelands.

    “He was an excellent employee, very experienced with racehorses having worked all of his life with them as a jockey, trainer and jockey coach around the world. He was always first into work in the morning, hugely enthusiastic and dedicated to his horses and a very much valued and integral member of our team.

    “Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”

    The trainer thanked her own and Kempton staff, as well as the paramedics who came to Mr Dooley’s aid.

    A Surrey Police spokesman said the force will be investigating the circumstances of Mr Dooley’s death, but that it is not being treated as suspicious.

    British Horseracing Authority (BHA) chief executive Nick Rust said: “I am sure that I speak for everyone at the BHA and in British horseracing when I state that we are truly devastated about the events which unfolded at Kempton Park.

    “Our sympathies go to the family, friends and colleagues of the individual who has lost his life, and the entire industry will join in mourning over this tragedy.

    “We owe so much in our sport to the racing grooms who provide such first class care and attention to our horses. The love and attention they give to their mounts is unconditional and comes with that small but ever-present level of risk that exists when working with large animals. This only serves to make their dedication so much more praiseworthy.”

    A National Trainers Federation spokesman said the federation has been supporting and advising the trainer.

    “The death of a stable employee at Kempton Park Racecourse is a tragedy that touches all in racing,” he added. “Reactions across the sport testify to the close bonds that unite us in our common passion and from the National Trainers Federation, we send our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased.

    “Mercifully, fatal accidents in the course of caring for racehorses in Britain are rare and we acknowledge and salute the commitment of stable employees across the country who devote their working lives to their horses.

    “British horseracing is fortunate to have an excellent support system for its people and this is at the disposal of anyone in times of need. The 24-hour Racing Support Line can be contacted on 0800 630044.”

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