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Bolting horse led to anxiety, court told

in News

RACING

Trainer Gai Waterhouse and the Australian Jockey Club have been ordered by the Supreme Court to answer questions about how four horses bolted from inside the racecourse out onto busy Alison Road, Randwick.

One of the horses attempted to jump a stationary car, but instead landed on its roof, with its legs flailing through the windscreen.

The two women in the car, mother and daughter Ruzica and Natalie Petrovic, are suing Gai Waterhouse and her company, and the AJC.

Peter Semmler QC, for the Petrovics, said the “horrific” experience had caused both women to suffer post traumatic stress disorder, one of them to the extent of being suicidal. On the day – January 22, 2001 – the women were taken to hospital for minor injuries.

According to witness reports tendered to court in a pre-trial hearing yesterday, the horse, Honour And Strength, was badly injured. It had cuts through to the bone on its knees, and head injuries including all teeth on the left side being knocked out. It was put down the following day. In an expert witness report tendered in court, Paul McGreevy, from the University of Sydney veterinary faculty, said that since the accident, a 1.3-metre gate had been replaced by a 2m-high gate, and another gate had been installed.

“The appropriateness of measures taken by the AJC to contain horses within their grounds in contexts other than racing appears to have been inadequate and reactionary rather than well planned,” he said.

“In my opinion, the AJC provided facilities and environments that were unsafe, while Gai Waterhouse Pty Ltd had in place a series of substandard practices.

“In these ways, the conduct of the AJC and Gai Waterhouse Pty Ltd materially contributed to the escape of a number of horses.”

The AJC’s finance department, in a memo to the AJC Committee following the accident, recommended several safety initiatives. These included one strapper per horse, that strappers should undergo compulsory training, and that only approved leads and bits be used.

It also asked for all trainers to submit their OH&S policies and procedures.

The memo noted that, while there were cost implications, “these need to be considered against the cost of further incidents and injury”.

Dennis Ronzani, for Waterhouse and her company, noted that the case had earlier been before a District Court judge, who had dismissed it. The court case is not expected to begin until the middle of next year.

Geesche Jacobsen – 386 Words
19 April 2005