Tylicki versus Gibbons: Judge hopes to deliver verdict before Christmas

Frederik Tylicki image retrieved from Facebook

Tylicki versus Gibbons: Judge hopes to deliver verdict before Christmas in case that left Jockey with catastrophic injuries.

The £6million damages claim being heard in the High Court between Jockeys Frederik Tylicki and Graham Gibbons closed on Friday 3rd December with the Judge Karen Waldon-Smith to make the final verdict before Christmas break, beginning on 21st December.

Tylicki claims that Gibbons’ mount was approximately 1 to 2 horse widths away from the inner rail and Gibbons must have known there that there was room for another horse to enter that gap; also that Gibbons knew, or ought to have known, that Tylicki’s mount was proximate to his, on his inside.

As professional jockeys riding under the Rules of Racing, both jockeys owed a duty of care to the other to exercise reasonable care and skill in their riding. Tylicki alleges that Gibbons breached that duty and is accordingly liable in negligence for the injuries suffered in the ensuing fall. Gibbons denies this.

Claims between professional sportspersons, against governing bodies are not unprecedented. Other major sports have seen disputes before the courts in the UK and internationally over recent years. However, organisers of amateur events, and amateur sports clubs, have also been the target of legal action.

During the trial, Tylicki has relied on expert evidence of Jim McGrath on the rules and regulations of riding and from fellow Jockey, Ryan Moore in relation to the issue of riding. Gibbons has relied upon Charles Lane for expert advice on the same issues. The evidence of the respective experts is likely to be highly determinative on the issue of liability.

The closing arguments of both parties were presented by the claimant (Tylicki) and defence (Gibbons) after a week of the court hearing evidence which highlighted the absolute importance of accurate decision making for jockeys.

Edward Faulks, QC, representing Tylicki, told the court that the collision was the result of an “inexcusable” piece of riding. He stated that there had been a “breach of the standard of care” between the jockeys during this race which led to Tylicki’s mare, Nellie Deen colliding with Gibbons’ ride, Madam Butterfly, and the subsequent accident which ultimately led to Tylicki sustaining serious injury and becoming paralysed and a permanent wheelchair user. Two further horses were involved in the accident with Jockey Jim Crowley sustaining a broken nose. Both men were treated on the track for over an hour before being transferred to the major trauma unit at ST George’s hospital on spinal boards, Crowley by road and Tylicki by air amulance.

Patrick Lawrence, QC representing Gibbons gave a contrasting account, stating:

if it was anything it was a momentary misjudgment coming around the bend with an ambitious move by Mr Tylicki when in hindsight he should have taken a pull”.

Lawrence continued

One does need to show more than mere carelessness. In theory, these circumstances [at Kempton] were avoidable. But these sort of coming togethers around a bend is something that may happen from time to time no matter how careful your riding is”.

It comes down to a period of two to three seconds when horses are going around the bend when the gap wasn’t reasonably sufficient and there was a coming together.”

Faulks questioned the reliability of Gibbons’ testimony and highlighted his drink and driving offences, although he also made it clear he was not asking whether Gibbons had actually been under the influence of any substances on the day in question. He also cited inconsistencies in Gibbons’ evidence around whether he had taken action to steer his ride away from Tylicki on Nellie Deen.

Summing up, Judge Walden-Smith said:

I cannot say for certain when I will make my judgement, but I shall do so as swiftly as I can. Hopefully before the [Christmas] vacation, that is my intention.”

Feature image: Frederik Tylicki image retrieved from Facebook

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