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Jockey Keagan Kirkby died at Charing Racecourse, near Ashford, after horse refused to jump fence and landed on him

A talented young jockey died after his horse refused to jump, bolted into a fence, threw him off and then landed on him, an inquest has heard.

Keagan Kirkby, 25, was given immediate first aid following the horror accident at Charing Racecourse, near Ashford, and an air ambulance also attended.

Keagan Kirkby died in the tragic accident at Charing Racecourse near Ashford. Picture: Emily Burge/FacebookKeagan Kirkby died in the tragic accident at Charing Racecourse near Ashford. Picture: Emily Burge/Facebook
Keagan Kirkby died in the tragic accident at Charing Racecourse near Ashford. Picture: Emily Burge/Facebook

But paramedics were unable to save him and he died from multiple injuries at the scene.

The details of the tragedy were outlined as an inquest into Mr Kirkby’s death was opened this morning.

The hearing at Oakwood House in Maidstone was told he had been taking part in a point-to-point race organised by the South East Hunt Club on Sunday, February 4.

Mr Kirkby was described as a stable groom from Midsomer Norton, near Bath in Somerset.

The Injured Jockeys Fund previously said his locally-trained mount ran out through the wing of a fence on the second circuit of the last race that afternoon.

The inquest was told Mr Kirkby died when his horse turned from the jump, bolted into a fence, throwing him off and then falling on him.

He was given immediate first aid treatment at the scene by the race organisers.

Paramedics were called but despite their best efforts, he died at the scene.

Mr Kirkby, who worked for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, was identified to the police by his grandfather David Young.

A post-mortem carried out at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford confirmed that he had died from multiple injuries.

Keagan Kirkby, left, is pictured here with legendary champion jockey AP McCoyKeagan Kirkby, left, is pictured here with legendary champion jockey AP McCoy
Keagan Kirkby, left, is pictured here with legendary champion jockey AP McCoy

Coroner Patricia Harding adjourned the inquest until May 3, pending further reports.

Friends and family have described Mr Kirkby as a “shining beacon”, saying: “He always had a smile and kind words to say to anyone he met.”

A JustGiving page set up to raise cash for his funeral and a memorial for him has already reached £53,500.

It says “the world sadly lost one of the kindest, most genuine lads”.

“As a young boy, Keagan could only dream of working for the champion trainer and riding winners,” it states.

“With hard work and sheer determination, he got there and achieved everything he dreamt of and more.

“He truly was an inspiration to all those who have a dream and he never gave up. He always had a smile and kind words to say to anyone he met.

“Keagan, you will be missed by so many people – you really were one of a kind.

“This page has been set up to help Keagan’s family who have lost the shining beacon of the family.

“Money raised will go towards funding his funeral and some sort of memorial in his honour.”

The tragic accident occurred at Charing Racecourse, near Ashford. Library picture: Paul AmosThe tragic accident occurred at Charing Racecourse, near Ashford. Library picture: Paul Amos
The tragic accident occurred at Charing Racecourse, near Ashford. Library picture: Paul Amos

Moving tributes flooded in from family, friends and the racing community when news of the tragic incident broke.

His girlfriend, Emily Burge, said: “I never thought in a million years I would find someone like you who cared and looked after me the way you did.

“I am absolutely heartbroken and always will be.

“You were the light at the end of a long week at work.

“We had so many plans over the summer to go to the lakes and show you where I grew up in Exmoor.”

Trainer Paul Nicholls posted a tribute on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, describing Mr Kirkby as “one of our best, hardworking lads”.

He wrote: “Life is so hard sometimes, the winners are totally insignificant compared to what has happened today.

“Sadly Keagan Kirkby, one of our best, hardworking lads, lost his life today riding in a point-to-point. All at team Ditcheat are mortified. Thoughts with all his friends and family. He was passionate about his job and his riding.”

British Horseracing Authority chief executive Julie Harrington released a statement saying it was “devastated to hear the tragic news”.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends, and everyone at the yard of Paul Nicholls,” she said.

“The entire racing industry will be in mourning at the loss of someone so young and with such potential.

“The esteem in which he was held is clear from the fact that he was nominated for the Rider/Groom category of the 2024 Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards, and made it through to the final 10 in his category.

“The nomination spoke of Keagan’s qualities as a thoughtful rider who develops a personal bond with his horses, understands their characters and adapts his riding accordingly, as well as his affable, helpful nature and popularity on the yard.

“We call on everyone to respect the privacy of Keagan’s family and the Paul Nicholls yard.”

Legendary champion jockey AP McCoy said: “Tragically sad news. My thoughts are with Keagan’s family, friends and everyone at Ditcheat.”

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