Jockey being sued by injured rival denies trying to ‘ride him off the track’

Freddy Tylicki is bringing a High Court claim against Graham Gibbons.

Jockey Graham Gibbons
Jockey Graham Gibbons

A jockey being sued by a former rival who suffered life-changing injuries when he fell during a race has denied trying to “ride him off the track”.

Freddy Tylicki is bringing a High Court claim against Graham Gibbons over his fall during the 3.20pm race at Kempton Park racecourse in Surrey on October 31 2016.

Mr Tylicki was trampled after coming off his mount in the one-mile fillies’ maiden race and was left partially paralysed and a permanent wheelchair user.

If his court case is successful, his lawyers say an assessment of damages will be needed, with the claim “worth several million pounds”.

His lawyers argue that Mr Gibbons, who denies riding negligently, manoeuvred his horse Madame Butterfly into the path of Mr Tylicki’s mount Nellie Deen, which was running into a gap between his horse and the running rail at the edge of the track as they made a right turn on to the home straight.

They claim that Mr Gibbons, who eventually won the race, must have known Mr Tylicki was “up the inner” and if not, should have checked, before allegedly making the move that saw the horses collide and Nellie Deen fall.

But giving evidence at the High Court in London on Tuesday, Mr Gibbons denied he had tried to block Mr Tylicki’s progress.

Dante Festival – Day Two – York Racecourse
Freddy Tylicki (Mike Egerton/PA)

Lord Faulks QC, for Mr Tylicki, put it to Mr Gibbons in cross examination that “he didn’t want this horse there so you prevented the horse and you just tried to ride him off the track”.

“No, that’s incorrect,” Mr Gibbons replied.

Mr Gibbons, 40, told the court that he had been unaware of Nellie Deen near him until shortly before Mr Tylicki fell.

“At no point did I see Nellie, Mr Tylicki’s horse, until he shouted,” he said.

Mr Gibbons added: “When Freddy shouted at me I looked over my right shoulder immediately and I was surprised and shocked that there was a horse there.”

On Monday, Mr Tylicki said an earlier leftward movement by Mr Gibbons’s mount had allowed him to move into the gap, but Madame Butterfly began moving back to the rail putting him under “pressure”.

Mr Gibbons said that on the bend his horse “didn’t deviate off the line she was on” by the rail until initial contact between Nellie Deen and Madame Butterfly’s hind quarters caused the latter to be “unbalanced”.

“I couldn’t believe there was a horse there because there wasn’t sufficient room for a horse to be there,” he said.

Kempton Park – Wednesday October 13th
A race at Kempton Park racecourse in Surrey in October 2021 (John Walton/PA)

In his written witness statement before the court, Mr Gibbons said: “At no point did I intentionally or recklessly move my horse to the right to block progress of Mr Tylicki’s horse and at no point did I ever deliberately try to direct my filly towards the inside rail.

“I was trying to get my filly to race around the bend in a safe and balanced way.”

In court, Lord Faulks asked Mr Gibbons if he thought he was entitled to “cut him off”, with Mr Gibbons replying: “No”.

Under cross-examination, Mr Tylicki also denied drinking alcohol before the race.

The court earlier heard evidence from Jim Crowley, another rider involved in the race, who claimed he smelled alcohol on Mr Gibbons’ breath in the weighing room but acknowledged under questioning there was no sign of him being “under the influence”.

When asked about the allegation, Mr Gibbons said it was “one person’s opinion”, adding: “There was 35 other jockeys in the weighing room on the same day, none of them smelled alcohol on my breath, if there was the stewards would have been alerted.”

In written submissions, Lord Faulks said Mr Gibbons had previously received four drink-driving bans and he had not raced since December 2016 after being suspended when he “tried to pass off a urine sample from a young rider… as his own”.

Asked why such details of his past were omitted from his written witness statement, Mr Gibbons said they were “public knowledge” and he “didn’t need to hide anything”.

Mr Crowley also told the court that Madame Butterfly had been “clearly off the rail” during the race and disagreed with a suggestion from Mr Gibbons’s lawyer Patrick Lawrence QC that there was never “a sufficient gap for Mr Tylicki to go through safely”.

He said some initial “interference” with Nellie Deen was why she ended up behind Madame Butterfly and “clipped her heels”.

The court also heard from another jockey in the race, Patrick Cosgrave, who told a stewards’ inquiry afterwards that he thought Mr Tylicki had been “ambitious” and “chancing it on a bit” during the race.

But giving evidence, during which video footage of the race was played, he said that “there obviously was room for him to go there”.

Mr Cosgrave said after the race he had tried to follow a “code of conduct” between jockeys and “not get involved” and tried to “stay as neutral as possible”.

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