Ambulance call by coroner after track tragedy

Local | Kay Wong 15 Aug 2019

A coroner has advised the Jockey Club to have ambulances on standby at racecourses even during off-season, after ruling a work rider died from an accident last year.

John Mok Chun-wa, also a former apprentice jockey, was giving his charge, Blocker Dee, a workout when the horse became frightened and shied at the Sha Tin Racecourse.

The 39-year-old fell and suffered a severe brain injury. He died two days later.

Yesterday, coroner Philip Wong Wai-kuen ruled that his death was an accident.

He suggested the club arrange for an ambulance be on standby at racecourses during the off-season, noting that is not difficult to execute and will not result in high expenses.

Wong also suggested that while there are horses training in the riding arena, it would be inappropriate to bathe other horses nearby. Wong said it was likely that Blocker Dee became unsettled due to another horse's sudden change in mood.

Since horses are highly sensitive to surroundings, one that is unsettled during a bath might affect horses in training - putting jockeys at risk.

Wong disagreed with the guidelines issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Council, which only requires the provision of a first-aid kit.

He emphasized that the presence of first-aid personnel is necessary as horses might experience sudden mood changes during training, threatening the lives of even the most experienced jockeys.

The club already requires certified first-aid personnel to be on-duty in its stables.

Wong ended the hearing by extending his deepest condolences to the widow and expressing his admiration for the family's decision to donate Mok's organs.

The club stated that on-site medical support has been enhanced since the accident, which includes having an ambulance and medical staff on standby during the off-season.

They will take into account the coroner's recommendations when exercising their ongoing review to strengthen the safety and emergency measures of horse training activities at racecourses.

Steps will also be taken to minimize the risk of horses in training being affected by other activities near the racecourse.

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