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Paralysed horse rider sues stables after accident
A KEEN young horsewoman from Codford who was left paralysed from the waist down after falling off a racehorse has launched a claim for compensation.
Laura Coward was 17 and working at Sutton Veny stables Horses First Racing Ltd in 2008 when she was injured after falling while taking gelding Saucy Night for a trial ride.
She is now suing the stables, founded by entrepreneur Eamonn Wilmott and home of top Australian trainer Jeremy Gask, in a claim that could be worth millions.
A writ lodged at London’s High Court, by Miss Coward's barrister, John Isherwood, says Saucy Night – who entered the record books on January 3, 2005, by winning the 2 1/2 mile steeplechase at Folkestone “barefoot” – had retired from racing at the time of the accident.
The young horsewoman had been offered the chance to take Saucy Night on loan from the stables and, on November 20, 2008, she engaged in a trial ride in its training arena, designed to “test her ability safely to manage and handle him,” Mr Isherwood states.
The writ claims that Horses First breached its own health and safety policy by allowing Miss Coward to ride the horse without it being led by a rope.
Alternatively, it is alleged the stables should be held liable under the Animals Act, as the horse had previously suffered an attack of an equine condition, known as “the strangles”, which would have made him “resistant” to being ridden.
A statement issued by Horses First Racing said the incident was a “terrible tragedy” but an accident for which no staff could be held responsible.