After yet more digging for evidence of horse collisions I’ve found some new examples and more sources for some that I already knew about. Maybe in a perfect world I wouldn’t need to do this because everyone would just accept that shock charges are a stupid idea (as I’ve argued in lots of blog posts before, although I’ve changed my mind about some of the details), but maybe a world in which everyone accepted things without evidence wouldn’t really be all that perfect. I’m increasingly aware that old arguments against shock (eg John Keegan in The Face of Battle) are just as prone to woolly thinking, special pleading and vague appeals to “common sense” as the arguments for it. Instead of appealing to the authority of one historian’s common sense to disprove another historian’s common sense I need to appeal to the authority of science and real-world examples. Speculation about what “would” happen looks pretty worthless next to video footage of what did happen. In any case I find this research interesting and fun (despite the fact that it focuses on horrible things happening to horses and people!).
First, a new one that I haven’t mentioned before. Thursday 16 June 1994 (ladies’ day) at Royal Ascot. In the fifth race (the Ribblesdale Stakes), Papago ridden by Mick Kinane was trailing the field at the furlong post when a drunk spectator (James Florey) ran across course. The horse ran into him, knocked him down and rolled over, unseating the jockey. Although horse and jockey ended up on the floor they weren’t injured. Florey was taken to hospital. Initial reports said that his condition was serious, and he was later said to have suffered cuts and bruises, but apparently the only long-term result of the incident was that he was warned off British racecourses for five years by the Jockey Club.
YouTube has BBC footage of the accident in slow motion looking down the course, which gives a good view of what happened. It looks like the horse saw the spectator coming in from his right and tried to duck out to the left but this just kept him going towards the spectator who hadn’t seen the horse and carried on running straight across the track. The horse hit him and tripped over head first. There are also a couple of reports in The Independent from 17 June and 9 September.
A weird thing about this one is that I must have known about it at the time but I’d completely forgotten about it. I was really into racing at that time, watched it on TV whenever I could, and bought the Racing Post quite frequently. I even went to Ascot the day after the accident – I was there when Lochsong won the King’s Stand Stakes. And this was just after I’d started work on my undergraduate dissertation, which was all about cavalry, so it’s not like I wasn’t primed to look out for collisions. It just shows that memories are unreliable.
Churchill Downs, Kentucky, 26 April 2009. During an exercise period at the Kentucky Derby meeting, Doctor Rap unseated his rider and galloped into Raspberry Kiss, who was standing on the track. Raspberry Kiss was knocked over and was later put down because of a broken pelvis (or possibly died of shock just before she was due to be put down – reports are contradictory); Doctor Rap fell on top of her and suffered a bone bruise which will probably stop him from racing again. I tried to find out about this accident last year but things got confusing because many news reports got the names of one or both horses wrong! Thanks to the Thoroughbred Database, which gives pedigrees for thoroughbred horses, I’ve confirmed the correct names of the horses:
- Raspberry Kiss (USA) foaled 2007, by Champali (USA), out of Lucky Sheikh (USA)
- Doctor Rap (USA) foaled 2006, by Smarty Jones (USA), out of Carly’s Crown (USA)
Some sources gave the names as Dr Rap and Raspberry Miss, but there are no records of any thoroughbred racehorses with these names.
NBC Chicago has a video of the accident which gives a good view of what happened. Doctor Rap approached Raspberry Kiss from behind and hit her left side. She fell and rolled over, throwing her jockey off. Doctor Rap came down on top of her and neither horse could get up. They are still lying on the ground at the end of the video, over 30 seconds after the impact. The Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY) and New York Daily News give reports of the accident which seem to have the facts straight.
Prescott Downs, Arizona, 26 August 2000. I’ve written about this one before but now I have some reports from the Prescott Daily Courier from 30 November 2000 and16 July 2003 giving reliable details. This is the one where Pacific Wind unseated his rider, galloped the wrong way around the track, and collided head on with Lot O Love, ridden by Stacey Burton. Both horses were knocked over and killed, and Burton was in coma for 23 days and suffered permanent brain damage. That’s what happens when you maximize the shock of impact.
Finally, I came across a YouTube video of an accident in Turkey. I haven’t been able to find any background information about this, and it’s not likely that I will because there isn’t much to go on. It seems to be some kind of display related to the history of the Ottomans. The grey horse gallops into the black horse which is standing still. The grey is knocked over and doesn’t get up. I’d guess it probably had to be put down. The video shows horse and rider lying on the ground for nearly two minutes after the collision, and at the end they don’t look like they’re going to get up and walk away. The black horse did walk away and doesn’t seem to be too badly hurt. Because the accident is a long way from the camera, and the quality of the video isn’t too good, it’s hard to see exactly what happened. It looks like the black horse probably regained its balance, but it’s very clear that its rider was knocked off very suddenly. I don’t think anyone could have sat on through that.
So, more proof that crashing horses into each other, or into people, is a bad idea. Don’t do it kids…