The horse darted to the left when the golf ball flew by
Kieran Fox was lucky to escape harm today, when he was unseated from his horse after it was distracted by an airborne golf ball that strayed onto the racecourse.
Jockey Charlie Bennett was the first to come into contact with the ball when a hoof appeared to flick it up and hit his helmet, before bouncing out in front of Fox. His mount, Luxford, was startled by the object and jinked to the left. The sudden movement caused Fox to lose his balance on the animal and tumble to the surface, 100 yards from the post.
One of the tracks in the Sandown racecourse, is situated close to a pitch and putt course, which would explain why the golf ball was unintentionally there in the first place.
Speaking to British media after the race, Fox, who rode in subsequent races, said:
"It happened so fast I didn’t know what had caused it but you can see on the replay it hit Charlie’s helmet and straight across in front of my filly’s face,” said Fox. It could have been worse, imagine if it had hit Charlie in the face."
Play on the pitch and putt course, is not permitted during race meetings and according to clerk of the course Andrew Cooper, these incidents are rare but not entirely unheard of.
"We take all reasonable measures to remove balls - apart from me and the head groundsman walking the track, you’ve got another team of 14 guys going over it in the morning. The reality is that you’ve got four or five inches of grass there, and as the track is next to the course, you’re going to get balls and you often have to step on them to know they are there."
"Obviously this is something we never like to see happen and in my 20 years of clerking we've only had three or four examples of this. It is not a unique occurrence and we probably have this happen once every three or four years."