Close shave: lucky groundstaff nearly mowed down in Musselburgh nightmare

Peter Scargillin Equestrian

A catastrophic collision was narrowly avoided at Musselburgh on Saturday when two members of groundstaff came within yards of being struck by runners in the 2m handicap.

As the field turned for home in the feature Edinburgh Cup, jockeys became aware of two individuals treading in divots on the racing line and apparently oblivious to the perilous situation.

The riders yelled at the staff, who can be seen ducking under the inner rail roughly half a mile from the finish just seconds before the ten horses thunder past them.

Connor Beasley partnered Lord Lamington in the contest and held a prominent position just behind the Jason Hart-ridden leader Anyonecanhaveitall, who inadvertently alerted the jockeys to the impending danger by hanging off the final bend.

Beasley said: "We weren't really aware of anyone to start with. They only got our attention as we were turning in and Jason Hart's horse started hanging away from the bend, so we looked up to see why and there were two groundstaff about 150 yards ahead of us treading in. We started hollering at them to get their attention as their backs were turned.

"God forbid what would have happened if they hadn't realised we were there and we'd hit them. They were using a gripe [a type of fork] to put the divots back in. If they had been spooked and dropped it then that would have potentially been fatal for a horse. We were all lucky."

The staff were among 14 responsible for repairing the track between races and were provided by a third-party company. All staff had been extensively briefed before the race, according to Musselburgh clerk of the course Harriet Graham.

"It was very unfortunate," she said. "They were briefed three times it was a two-mile race and fortunately no one was hurt."

"I'm not sure what more we could do. We have very strict protocols and safety measures in place and our head groundsman ensures they all have racecards, see maps and know what the race is. The only thing I might ask is for no-one to wear hoodies, albeit whether they'd have heard the horses without the jockeys shouting I don't know as it was very windy."

Stewards held an inquiry into the circumstances which led to the staff being on the course. Evidence was forwarded to the BHA head office.

You can read the original article from the Racing Post HERE