Riders hurt in two spills at the Park
Three jockeys sustained injuries and had to be rushed to hospital in two separate races, the sixth and seventh, respectively, at Caymanas Park yesterday.
Coming out worst was three-time champion Dane Nelson, whose mount, MONTEGONIAN, stumbled and fell approaching the furlong pole in the sixth race over 1300 metres, decking the popular jockey. In the ensuing melee, STRAIGHTFROMUHEART was brought down, throwing jockey Richard Mitchell as well. The horse also stepped on Nelson, who lay motionless on the ground for a while before he was rushed to the First Aid Post in the track ambulance.
Nelson regained consciousness shortly after, but was then fitted with a neck brace by the paramedics and taken to the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) for treatment and further observation.
Mitchell, on the other hand, escaped injury, but did not ride for the remainder of the day.
In the very next race over 1500 metres, won by 7-2 chance DREAMCOMETRUE, both DINNER BY SEVEN and STIR IT UP dislodged their respective riders, Paul 'Country' Francis and the veteran Vassell 'Jollyman' Najair in the backstretch.
Francis is suspected to have fractured his collar bone, while the 62-year-old Najair was badly shaken up and received an injury to his face. Both were taken to the UHWI for observation.
Although there have been several spills on racedays at Caymanas, only one has claimed the life of a jockey in 56 years of racing at the track. This occurred on November 20, 1999, when popular lightweight jockey, Al Gopie, was thrown by his mount, SAGAR, at the half mile and was trampled by horses in the day's penultimate race.
Meanwhile, firm favourites ROYAL ASSAULT and ETERNAL JOY led from start to finish to win the co-feature races on the card.
Ridden by champion jockey Shane Ellis for trainer Anthony 'Baba' Nunes, the much-improved 4-y-o colt, ROYAL ASSAULT, romped the overnight allowance sprint as the 3-5 favourite. And 30 minutes later, the Neive Graham-trained ETERNAL JOY, a 2-1 favourite, with apprentice Linton Steadman replacing the injured Paul Francis, did likewise in the closing race over 1200 metres for the Colin Melhado Memorial Cup (claiming $250,000-$210,000).