By Andy Stephens
The stable groom who died after apparently being kicked by a horse in the racecourse stables at Kempton on Saturday night has been named as Ken Dooley.
Dooley, in his 50s, had worked for Amanda Perrett's stables in Pulborough for seven years. He was fatally injured before the scheduled 8.45pm race.
The trainer said in a statement on Sunday: "It is with huge sadness that I can confirm we lost our friend and colleague Ken Dooley after an incident in the stable yard at Kempton last night.
"Ken had been with us for seven years and was a very special member of our family business at Coombelands.
"He was an excellent employee, very experienced with racehorses having worked all of his life with them as a jockey, trainer and jockey coach around the world. He was always first into work in the morning, hugely enthusiastic and dedicated to his horses and a very much valued and integral member of our team.
"I would like to thank my staff, the stable and racecourse staff at Kempton, Hugo Palmer’s travelling head lad, Dr Lucy Free and the ambulance service who were so quickly there to help Ken. Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time."
Surrey Police said it was called to the Sunbury circuit following a report of a "sudden death". An investigation is under way into the incident that prompted Kempton clerk of the course Barney Clifford to abandon the fixture with two races remaining.
Martin Dwyer was riding at the fixture and said this morning on Racing UK show Luck On Sunday: "It’s truly awful and all our condolences go to the family of the guy who lost his life. There was a very sombre mood and nobody really knew what was going on, and then we found out. As I was leaving there were blue lights everywhere and it was a bit of a shock.
"It highlights what a dangerous sport this is and makes you think of the stupid things we worry about - making the weight, will I ride this horse or that. Then something like this happens and the whole industry takes a breath.
"Unfortunately, horses do kick out and I believe that’s what happened. They have metal shoes on and if you get a kick from a horse it can be very serious.
"Horses don’t mean to do it - if they feel frightened or threatened; if they feel someone is too close or something they do kick out but fortunately it is very rare. It is very sad."
Jockeys at Goodwood and Chepstow wore black armbands on Sunday afternoon.
Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said: "I am sure that I speak for everyone at the BHA and everyone in British horseracing this morning when I state that we are truly devastated about the events which unfolded at Kempton Park last night.
"Our sympathies go to the family, friends and colleagues of the individual who has lost his life, and the entire industry will join in mourning over this tragedy.
"We owe so much in our sport to the racing grooms who provide such first class care and attention to our horses. The love and attention that they give to their mounts is unconditional and comes with that small but ever-present level of risk that exists when working with large animals. This only serves to make their dedication so much more praiseworthy.
"The matter now sits with the Surrey police force and as such we are unable to provide further details regarding the individual involved and the exact nature of the incident at this time. My teams were assisting with their investigations last night and will continue to do so today. We ask that everyone shows respect and understanding to this process at present."
A statement from the Racecourse Association read: "We are deeply saddened by the tragic news from Kempton Park last night and would like to express sincere condolences on behalf of all racecourses to the family, friends and colleagues of the individual who lost his life.
"Racecourses do everything they can to provide a safe working environment in all areas and are equipped to provide the highest level of medical care and attention whenever it is required.
"This tragic accident is a reminder of the dangerous nature of the work stable staff do day in day out and our thoughts are very much with everybody affected at this difficult time. Staff as well as jockeys at Chepstow and Goodwood will wear black armbands today as a mark of respect."
The National Trainers Federation also released a statement. It read: "The death of a stable employee on Saturday night at Kempton Park is a tragedy that touches all in racing. Reactions across the sport testify to the close bonds that unite us in our common passion and from the NTF, we send our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the individual who has lost his life.
"Mercifully, fatal accidents in the course of caring for racehorses in Britain are rare and we acknowledge and salute the commitment of stable employees across the country, who devote their working lives to their horses.
"Since last night we have been advising and supporting the trainer and the team at the yard. British horseracing is fortunate to have an excellent support system for its people and this is at the disposal of anyone in times of need."