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Rider James McNeile dies following point-to-point fall at Larkhill

Thu 20 Jul 2017

Point-to-point rider James McNeile has died following a fall at Larkhill on Saturday, the Injured Jockeys' Fund has announced.

McNeile was taken to Southampton Hospital by air ambulance after suffering a significant head injury when colliding with a fence at the Wiltshire track.

Doctors later found him to have suffered a substantial brain injury and McNeile died on Sunday.

A statement issued by the IJF on behalf of McNeile's family said: "It is with much regret that we announce today the death of James McNeile, 57, from Devizes, Wiltshire, following a fall at Larkhill point-to-point course on Saturday, April 1, 2017.

"James fell in the 3.45 race and collided with the fence sustaining a significant head injury. He was attended immediately by the racecourse medical team which included consultants in emergency medicine and intensive care and anaesthetics as well as paramedics.

"It was immediately apparent that this was a substantial brain injury and after stabilisation he was flown by air ambulance to Southampton Hospital. He was ventilated from the time of the accident.

"On arrival and after subsequent examination, it became apparent that the degree of brain damage was such that this was not a survivable injury. James deteriorated overnight and died peacefully on Sunday.

"James died competing in a sport he loved, and around which he had built his life and some wonderful friendships."

Jockey David Crosse paid tribute to McNeile, tweeting: "Devastated about my good buddy James McNeile passing. Always smiling and went doing what he loved. May he RIP."

Trainer Martin Keighley added: "Such sad news. Thoughts with his family & friends."

The British Horseracing Authority, in a joint-statement with the Point to Point Authority (PPA), Larkhill Point to Point racecourse and the Committee of the Avon Vale Hunt, said: "We are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news regarding the fatal injury incurred by James McNeile.

"First and foremost, our thoughts are with his family and friends. The world of horseracing, be it amateur or professional, is a closely-knit community and the entire sport will come together in mourning over this sad accident.

"Racing wouldn't exist without the riders and the horses and that's why it's essential that together we are always looking for ways to protect the stars that are at the centre of our much-loved sport.

"The BHA and Point to Point Authority work in conjunction with all racecourses to ensure that the highest standards are met across all aspects of welfare.

"Tragic incidents such as this are exceptionally rare. However, for athletes competing in any sport, there is an element of risk that cannot be wholly removed."

The BHA said that prior to McNeile's death there had been six recorded fatalities from point-to-point racing in Britain in the last 42 years.

The governing body added that Larkhill was visited by a BHA course inspector within the last two weeks and "was assessed as compliant with all the necessary racecourse standards".

The BHA statement continued: "The medical facilities at Larkhill racecourse on Saturday were fully compliant with the required standards and included three racecourse doctors and two fully-equipped ambulances with fully-trained paramedics.

"The medical team were treating Mr McNeile within moments of his fall and swiftly ascertained the need for an air ambulance.

"Despite the immediate and extended medical attention the injuries were of such an extent that it was not possible to save his life, and James passed away peacefully in hospital the following day.

"What is important is that, from any incident such as this is, we do all that we can to understand what caused it, and then see if there is anything we can learn from the incident.

"These processes are already under way. All relevant bodies will also assist the police force with any enquiries they may wish to make, and assist the racecourse to carry out a full review of the incident."

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