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Friday 9 December 2016

Track Talk: Parade rings need to be sorted before someone gets hurt

Jockey Aidan Coleman was assaulted on Tuesday afternoon
Jockey Aidan Coleman was assaulted on Tuesday afternoon

Last week there was a very unsavoury incident at Southwell Racecourse where jockey Aidan Coleman was assualted back in the weighroom leading to four people being arrested.

Rightly so it was a matter that got a lot of coverage and authorities are adamant that plans are in place to ensure nothing similar happens again.

The biggest question mark surrounding Aidan Coleman’s incident was why the four people in question were allowed to remain on the racecourse having come to the attention of management and security earlier in the day but there’s little can be done about that now. The only course of action is to make sure that we don’t witness a repeat in the future.

Incident

It must be said, this is an isolated incident and the Irish Turf Club have come out and declared themselves more than happy with their security around the weighroom and so they should be. At almost every Irish meeting, if not at every Irish meeting, there is a member of Turf Club security at the door of the weighroom.

However, a disaster waiting to happen on Irish racecourses is not in the weighroom, but instead in the parade ring.

Some day in an Irish parade ring somebody is going to get badly injured unless the issue is addressed.

While unauthorised personnel won’t get inside the door of an Irish weighroom – and rightly so – it seems that at most Irish tracks access to the parade ring can easily be gained.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest trouble seems to come on the bigger days when the hype surrounding the top horses is at a high.

For example, when Hurricane Fly was strutting his stuff around Leopardstown last seaon, he was welcomed back to the number one spot by some over-exuberant individuals who had no right to be in there.

The trouble isn’t that the parade ring is a place for the privileged or anything like that but some day a horse is going to kick out and seriously injure somebody who hasn’t a clue of the dangers or maybe even an owner or trainer who is fully aware, but hardly has room to move because there’s so many people standing where they shouldn’t.

Some people in England will tell you that the incident with Coleman wasn’t the biggest surprise in the world due to the lack of security around the weighroom over there.

Coleman was back riding the following day but only after a visit to the dentist. However, it could have been a lot worse.

While something like Coleman’s incident would be a major surprise in Ireland, an incident in the parade ring wouldn’t.

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The big Flat days are all gone now but Champions Weekend certainly attracted its fair share of unwelcome visitors to the parade ring and with the big jump meetings on the horizon, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if we had an unfortunate injury before very long.

Let’s hope something is done before the event rather than after.

And who is to say that it will be an incident confined to horse and human and not something like at Southwell when someone with a few drinks too many makes his way to the parade ring.

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