Racehorse rider who sued trainer Jessica Harrington resolves High Court action

Jessica Harrington's side denied liability in the matter
Racehorse rider who sued trainer Jessica Harrington resolves High Court action

High Court reporters

An action brought by a racehorse rider who claimed he was suddenly thrown off a horse he was exercising for high-profile trainer Jessica Harrington and suffered multiple fractures has been resolved, the High Court has heard.

Counsel for the exercise rider and now trainer Mark Fahey told the High Court on the second day of the hearing on Wednesday that the matter had been resolved.

Thomas Clarke BL said "an accommodation had been reached" and the proceedings could be struck out.

Counsel for Jessica Harrington, Grainne Berkery BL, said the defendants consented.

Striking out the case, Mr Justice Michael Hanna said he was happy the matter had been resolved between the parties.

Mr Fahey had claimed he had been exercising a two-year-old gelding for the Harrington yard seven years ago when, he said: "The horse disappeared from underneath me. I hit the bank.:

His counsel, Jonathan Kilfeather SC instructed by Coonan Cawley solicitors, at the opening of the case said at issue was the use of a stable bandage on one of the front legs of the horse which Mr Fahey believed was cut open by repeated striking of the bandage by the horse’s hind leg.

"It was the equine equivalent of standing on your own shoelace," Counsel said.

Liability

The Harrington side which denied liability contended the bandage used was the correct and safe one to use and is the type of bandage used worldwide for training horses.

It was further contended that what happened was an unfortunate accident which was not caused as a result of any alleged act or omission on the part of the Harrington side.

Mark Fahey (35), of Cloneygad, Monasterevin, Co Kildare, had sued thoroughbred racehorse trainer Jessica Harrington, of Commonstown Stud, Moone, Co Kildare, and Jessica Harrington Racing, of the same address, as well as Commonstown Racing Stables Ltd, with an office at Commonstown Stud.

On August 24th, 2015, he claimed he was thrown from a two-year-old gelding while he was riding on a sand gallop.

He claimed he was allegedly required to exercise a thoroughbred racehorse on the sand gallop while bandaged and when it was allegedly unsafe to do so. He has further claimed there was an alleged failure to ensure that the racehorse was exercised with protective boots rather than bandaging.

The racehorse he has alleged was caused to trip up and lose his balance due to having allegedly cut open the bandages which had been applied to his forelegs.

Injuries

Mr Fahey claimed he was thrown heavily to the ground, and he suffered immediate and severe back pain and injuries, as well as dental injuries, and was taken to hospital.

All the claims were denied and it was contended by the Harrington side that the incident was in the nature of an unfortunate accident which occurred in circumstances where the horse was caused to fall which is a risk it says is accepted by a professional rider.

It was further claimed there was alleged contributory negligence on behalf of Mr Fahey in that he allegedly failed to exercise a reasonable level of care for his own safety, and he was allegedly the author of his own misfortune.

In evidence, Mr Fahey said he had exercised the horse every day over two or three weeks and on the sand gallop five or six times. He claimed on the day of the incident that he was told they had to put on the stable bandages on the horse's front leg and he put insulating tape over the bandage.

He said he was in a lot of pain after the fall and told another rider to call an ambulance. He said he did not see what happened to the horse in the fall.

He said his teeth were broken in the incident and he was very grateful to Ms Harrington who paid for the dental work and also paid him for a time while he recovered from the fall.

Counsel for the Harrington side, Stephen Lanigan O’Keeffe SC put it to Mr Fahey that the reality is we just do not know what happened. Mr Fahey said it was a matter of opinion.

Counsel suggested Mr Fahey was wrong to criticise the use of bandages. Mr Fahey replied he had not changed his opinion.

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