BY CHRIS MCNULTY
LETTERKENNY jockey Martin Harley suffered a broken bone in his neck after suffering a crashing fall at Lingfield this afternoon.
Harley will be out of action ‘for a good few months’ and will now miss most of the 2014 flat racing season.
Harley took a bad fall off Red Art in the closing stages of the Ladbrokes Mobile Handicap over seven furlongs.
The 24-year old was taken to East Surrey Hospital for what were said to be ‘precautionary x-rays following the shuddering fall, which left him concussed, although he was fully conscious when transferred to East Surrey Hosopital.
The course’s medical officer, Peter Magauran, medical officer at Lingfield, confirmed that Harley, recently appointed as Marco Botti’s stable jockey in Newmarket, had suffered ‘significant bone injuries to his neck and ribs’.
Mr Magauran said: “It’s now being discussed whether to transfer him to St George’s Hospital in Tooting in London where they have a specialist neurology unit. I would say he it will be a good few months before he makes a full recovery.”
The news is a devastating blow for Harley, who was due to saddle Mount Athos in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan on Saturday week.
Racing at the venue was delayed for almost two hours after the crashing fall.
Five-year Red Art was fatally wounded after clipping heels and landed nose first on the polytrack when Harley sought a way through inside the final 200 years, but was pipped by winner Presumido and runner-up Alnoomaas.
Red Art was sent off as the 7-4 favourite having been heavily back in from 16-1 last night and was one of a quartet of fancied mounts for Tony Newcombe.
Neil MacKenzie Ross, the Clerk of the Course at Lingfield Park, said: “Martin was conscious when they put him on the stretcher after his fall and he has gone off for some precautionary checks.”
Harley was due to have seven mounts today, five at Lingfield with another two at Kempton.
His mount in the first at Linfield, Daniel Thomas, failed to kick despite being the well-backed 2-1 favourite.
His next race was to be in the 3.30 aboard Dorback, but the horse was taken out of five-furlong event.
The events in the 7f handicap brought a dark cloud on a day’s racing that had been subject to
intense attention, after racing authorities were made aware of a possible betting coup at two meetings – Lingfield and Kempton.
Bookmakers offered starting price odds only on the races in question after odds on four runners from Newcombe’s yard were slashed massively, as well as Stephen Arnold-owen horses from the
Ann Stokell stable.
Harley was set to saddle four of those mounts, including Daniel Thomas. The others in question were Decent Fella in the 4.40 (backed into 2/1), We Have a Dream in the 6.40 (backed into 3/1 from 9/1) and Brown Pete in the 9.10 (into 1/2 having been available at 6/1 early this morning).
“The BHA (British Horseracing Authority) alerted the Gambling Commission to the possibility of a complex betting-related issue involving races at Lingfield and Kempton,” said Robin Mounsey, the BHA media manager.
“The BHA’s internal monitoring and intelligence networks gathered the information and acted positively once verified and these actions alerted the betting industry in order that bookmakers were able to act in a manner they felt appropriate.
“The action taken reflects our immediate priority in these situations which is to protect both the integrity and reputation of the sport and the interests of the betting public.”