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Unhappy New Year

NZ Harness Trainers & Drivers Assn
Published by Pete Cook in News · 10 January 2020
Unfortunately, 2020 has already proved to be anything but a ‘happy new year’, for a number of our leading horsemen with the awful incident involving Ricky May being followed closely by a horrendous accident at Cambridge.
Now that the wee man is, miraculously, on the way to what sounds like a full recovery, the gift of hindsight can be used to talk about the remarkable happenings of that day.
Having been on course at Omakau and, in fact shared a chat with Ricky in the drivers room shortly before the big race, the common word used in the stunned conversations following his collapse was ‘surreal’. People were wandering around with glazed expressions, crying, or standing gazing in shock at the bevy of ambulances, paramedics and helicopters that were gathered at the end of the front straight. One of the most moving moments came when commentator Dave McDonald gave what could only be described as a heartfelt description of what was going on, confiding in me later that he had no idea what to say. Suffice to say that he hadn’t heard the outburst of applause which followed his emotional words. It never ceases to amaze me how harness followers react when one of their own is in difficulty, let alone under threat of losing a life.
There has been much publicity, as there should be, of the exploits of Ellie Barron, Lawrence McCormick and the experts who came to Ricky’s aid, along with Graeme Mee, who did a superb job of controlling the horse. Credit must also go to Club President Graham Sinnamon, along with the RIU, who were faced with a situation that no-one in those roles can be prepared for.
While at the time, the situation looked dire, on reflection, there were so many fortunate aspects to the incident. Had it happened on Rick’s farm, away from medical help, or even over in the back straight of the big Omakau track, the outcome could have been very different. The fact that the right medical experts were on-course (and obviously harness fans) was an astounding coincidence, and if it hadn’t been for the skills of other drivers in the race in avoiding the fallen horseman – well, who knows what might have happened.
A fairly sobering experience to be in the midst of, thankfully with an outcome that frankly no-one on the day really expected. Let’s hope that there will be positive outcomes for him and the other drivers suffering injuries in early January. It’s a reminder of what these people risk when they are doing their jobs.
Pete Cook

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