Freddy Tylicki and Graham Gibbons were riding in a race at Kempton in October 2016
The fall that led to Freddy Tylicki being paralysed “could easily have been avoided”, racing pundit Jim McGrath has told the High Court.
The Sky Sports analyst appeared as an expert witness in the £6m damages claim brought by former jockey Tylicki against Graham Gibbons over the incident at Kempton in October 2016.
McGrath said the stewards on the day should have found Gibbons guilty of dangerous riding, for “riding in a way that was far below the standard of a competent and careful rider”.
There have been no finding of dangerous riding in Britain since 2009.
Four horses, including Tylicki’s mount Nellie Dean, were brought down during the race.
Tylicki was airlifted to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a spinal cord injury, which means he permanently uses a wheelchair.
Gibbons denies causation and negligence and his defence is that the fall was a “racing accident occasioned by the horses coming together”.
“This was no more than a racing incident and your evidence that the stewards should have found dangerous riding is without any foundation at all,” said Patrick Lawrence QC, representing Gibbons, to McGrath.
“Absolute rubbish,” replied McGrath.
“I don’t think there is any question that Mr Gibbons had the opportunity to correct his horse,” he added.
“My experience as a race reader and commentator and my knowledge of the rules and, crucially in this incident the length of time it took to unfold and the position of the incident in this race, are all important matters.
“Putting that all together – to me it was a completely avoidable incident.”
He later added the incident could “easily” have been avoided.
Lawrence put to McGrath that he did not have sufficient expertise to assist the court on Gibbons’ riding as he had no race-riding experience.
McGrath said he was not appearing as a “riding expert”.
He pointed to previous work for the Professional Jockeys’ Association in tribunals, and highlighted 41 years’ experience in racing.
“I do think overall I can give a reasonable opinion to the court,” he said, adding he was not a “gun for hire” and that appearing in this case had been “tiresome, time-consuming and unpleasant”.
Dozens of replays of the race in question have been shown to the court.
McGrath said Gibbons had moved to his right, narrowing the gap between his horse – the favourite and eventual winner Madame Butterfly – and the rail, when he “must have known” there was a horse on his inside.
McGrath was asked about whether he customarily sees jockeys move their heads from left to right or whether they look straight ahead.
“For the most part they look straight on but if they are going to make a manoeuvre it is incumbent on them to know they can carry out that manoeuvre safely,” he said.
“To me this shouldn’t have happened, it was a non-competitive part of the race. To me, round the bend, is dead easy, everyone has plenty of time in the straight. There is no reason for anyone to take any risks.
“More importantly, no-one would be expecting anyone to take any risks. So the consequences of someone taking risks, or appearing to do so, were always likely to be significant.”