It’s been a rollercoaster week, but I would have given a million dollars for it to have ended differently.
Last Friday, just one week ago, I was at Newmarket as Track Presenter, helping out a colleague who was returning from his honeymoon.
It was the start of their last meeting of the season.
Newmarket can be a challenging environment, when the Great and the Good are in town and everyone treats them with due reverence and a smile is subject to VAT- you know the score.
But this was different – it was the end of term and a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere. It was a day I really enjoyed and the jockeys were all smiles.
That included one rider, known as one of the most decent and friendly in racing with whom I had a very happy conversation. We joked as he told me ‘you’ve got balls’ referring to the fact that I had called him the winner as they crossed the line of a desperate 4 way photo finish to a race at Baden-Baden in Germany on which I had been commentating for Betting Shop TV the previous Sunday.
Neither of us were keen on a job swap, but as always with this particular rider, it was good humoured and amicable.
Tonight, as I write this, that same jockey, Frederick Tylicki, lies in a London hospital to which he was air lifted after a shattering fall in a four horse pile up at Kempton Park on Monday. It’s been confirmed he has a T7 paralysis- no movement in the lower body.
It has hit everyone like a thunderbolt.
I find it very hard to put my feelings into words. When you work with these people they become friends- just like my broadcasting colleagues.
To find Freddie stricken in this way again rams home the most important thing about this job- always remember these guys are human beings first and whatever they do for a living second. Thanks to a horse called Speedy Boarding winning two Group One races in France, he had enjoyed an exceptional 2016.
Freddie’s father was a Champion jockey so horses have ruled his life. Like everyone else I can only pray that Freddie, big smile et al will walk through a Jockeys Room door some time soon.
You’d hear the roar miles away.
By Mike Vince