St Moritz: where George Baker took a heavy fall on Sunday
PICTURE: swiss-image.ch/Andy Mettler
CLASSIC-winning jockey George Baker was recovering in a Swiss hospital on Sunday after being involved in a horrific fall at St Moritz, where he was riding as part of the famous ‘white turf’ meeting.
Baker was initially placed into an induced coma after his fall on the snow, which involved three horses in the first race on the card, and his wife Nicola jetted out to be by her husband’s side.
As evening fell the St Moritz press office was able to relay positive news from the hospital in Chur, some 100 kilometres from the course, where Baker was airlifted after first receiving treatment on the course.
“We have just been told the jockey is awake and everything is fine,” Claudia Grasern-Woehrle said.
“It is really great news. Nothing is broken and he had a CT scan which has come back clear.”
Baker was riding Boomerang Bob, who died in the fall, for trainer Jamie Osborne when two horses fell in front of them well inside the final furlong.
Osborne said: “George had nowhere to go and was brought down by one in front of him. It was a horrible fall and he hit the ice hard. He was put in an induced coma which I believe is normal practice in these situations.”
‘My horse stumbled quite badly after the line’
Christophe Soumillon rode in the race and told French racing channel Equidia: “There was a patch of snow about 50 metres before the winning post and I felt the horse beside me take a bad step and he fell. I was lucky not to be involved but George Baker’s horse was brought down behind me and unfortunately the jockey didn’t get up.
“It was the first race and there were only nine runners. Turning into the straight the snow was only up to the horses’ shoes. You could see by the prints afterwards that there was water between the ice and the snow.
“It could be because of the temperature which is in positive figures, though I don’t have much to compare it with as I have not ridden here before.”
A statement later issued on the organiser’s website read: “After thorough investigation by the persons responsible for White Turf, a crack in the ice had occurred on the inner rails in the direction of the racetrack, some 150m from the finishing line.
“This meant that water had come up to undermine the racetrack. The safety of the horses and the riders are paramount. There is no danger for spectators anywhere on the lake.”
Soumillon added: “My horse stumbled quite badly after the line and I told the meeting directors that, in my opinion, it would be impossible to stage a 16-runner race safely in those conditions, given that three horses fell in the first. They understood and in any case the jockeys were unanimous we couldn’t race on.”
The remainder of the meeting, including the season-ending feature, the Longines Grosser Preis von St Moritz, was cancelled following the accident.
Baker had walked the course on his first visit along with Kieren Fox, who was among other British riders with mounts on the card.
John Best, who had saddled a winner on the white turf on Friday, was one of the first on the scene of the fall.
“Nobody could have foreseen this happening as we had all walked the track and George said it looked great and it was the best I have seen it,” he said. “We had raced on it last Friday without any problem.”
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