Horse death at Van. track accidental

BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:18 PM ET

VANCOUVER - The shocking Saturday death of racehorse Private Mambo at Hastings Racecourse “was caused by a series of unfortunate incidents,” according to a report published Monday.

“No blame is attributed to either rider involved in the events that resulted in the rider of the number eight horse being unseated away from the starting gate,” said the one-page report from British Columbia Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch race operations director Doug Scott.

Trouble began after the starting gates opened for the sixth race. Private Mambo, the number 8 horse, stumbled and threw jockey Giovanni Franco off-balance. Kyria, the number 10 horse, broke sharply to the inside.

“As the number 8 horse stumbles, the number 10 horse makes contact with it, unseating the rider from the number 8 horse. As the rider is unseated, the bridle is pulled from the horse,” said the report.

Private Mambo’s face contacted the track, dislodging the ear cones and blinkers which were pulled down over the eyes, “severely restricting the horse’s vision.”

The three-year-old ran blindly at the inside rail, then veered toward the outside rail. Less than 20 seconds into the race, Private Mambo crashed into a wood and metal-framed glass shed at the winner's circle and died instantly from the impact.

Franco was not injured, but trainer and security guard David Dahl was at the shed and suffered broken ribs and internal injuries. An ambulance was called and he was rushed to hospital for surgery.

The day’s last two races were cancelled, but racing resumed Sunday. The badly damaged shed was deemed unsafe and removed.

There was no ambulance on standby at the civic-owned racetrack. Howard Blank, vice-president of track operator Great Canadian Gaming, admitted the incident could have "been more tragic," but said “we don’t believe an ambulance on-site is necessary.”

“We do have paramedic personnel on-site who are trained,” Blank said. “If it is thought that an ambulance should be on-site, we will have one.”

By comparison, the United States Soccer Federation Division 2 requires the Vancouver Whitecaps to have an ambulance at Swangard Stadium. The annual Cloverdale Rodeo is no longer sanctioned by the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association, but still hires an on-call ambulance. Ambulances are standard at Vancouver Canucks and B.C. Lions games.

Blank estimated there were 4,500 people at the track when the tragedy happened. Admission is free and there are no turnstiles.


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