The body which represents Irish professional jockeys is hoping to finally secure personal compensation cover for its members. The lack of such insurance for riders in this country came to the fore after the success of Freddy Tylicki’s £6m (€7.1m) British case against his former colleague Graham Gibbons in London last month.
Ex-jockey Tylicki was left paralyzed from the waist down due to a fall at Kempton in 2016 and successfully sued Gibbons who was found responsible for the incident. Jockeys based in Britain have personal allowance, but attempts in recent years by the Irish Jockeys Association to arrange similar cover here have failed.
Former champion jockey Ruby Walsh recently said he believes every rider will need to take out indemnity insurance because of the implications of the Tylicki case. Following the ruling, which the IJA called a “seminal” case, efforts were intensified to obtain such assurance.
Of course expense is going to be a big factor and we are very aware that we are in a market where insurance costs are rising all the time.
“We now have someone actively looking at this for us,” IJA Secretary Andrew Coonan said on Tuesday. “I spoke to him right after the Tylicki case came out, so we had a broker who looked into that area for us and thinks it may be possible to get us out of the way.
“At the moment it is being actively pursued and we hope we can at least get a proposal. Of course expense is going to be a big factor and we are very aware that we are in a market where insurance costs are increasing all time. The cost of this insurance could be very high. However, we must explore all avenues,” he added.
Coonan, a lawyer and former amateur jockey, described the outcome of the Tylicki case as a potential “game changer” in terms of interference rules and how they are enforced.
“There are riders here who know Freddy and we are all very aware of the outcome of the case. When we consider now (the rules of interference), including the riders and the people I discuss the rules with interference, it’s almost the first thing they refer to, so it became a focal point in terms of the whole issue of interference,” Coonan said.
“We have a scenario as a result of the ruling, that yes the judge accepts the cut and thrust from competitive races, but within that a rider has to give due consideration to his comrades.
“Although in theory we all understood that before, the reality now is that if you intentionally or inadvertently breach this respect, you could now be effectively responsible for any injury you cause, potentially to another rider or to another horse in a race.
“This is where it becomes a very broad issue.
“The consequences for Freddy were appalling. But suppose we now have a situation where a horse is injured as a result of interference and the Stewards say you are the culprit and issue a two day suspension, and an owner says my horse is injured” , he added.
Coonan has previously said he believes racing authorities in Ireland and Britain have failed to understand the significance of the Tylicki case and its wider implications for the sport.