A groom killed at one of the country’s best-known racecourses from a suspected kick from a horse has been described as “hugely enthusiastic and dedicated to his horses” by his employer.
Ken Dooley, in his 50s, suffered fatal injuries following an incident on Saturday night at Kempton Park in Sunbury-on-Thames.
On Sunday trainer Amanda Perrett, who employed Mr Dooley at her yard in West Sussex, confirmed that he was the victim.
She said in a statement: “It is with huge sadness that I can confirm we lost our friend and colleague Ken Dooley after an incident in the stable yard at Kempton last night.
“Ken had been with us for seven years and was a very special member of our close-knit family business at Coombelands.
“He was an excellent employee, very experienced with racehorses having worked all of his life with them as a jockey, trainer and jockey coach around the world.
“He was always first into work in the morning, hugely enthusiastic and dedicated to his horses and a very much valued and integral member of our team.”
She thanked her staff and staff at Kempton Park as well as emergency services for their efforts to save Mr Dooley’s life.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time,” she said.
Emergency services were called to the course at around 9.20pm but Mr Dooley died at the scene, Surrey Police said.
The final two races of the event were abandoned following the incident.
Jockey Martin Dwyer, who was riding at the fixture, said he believed Mr Dooley was killed by a kick.
He told Racing UK: “Unfortunately, horses do kick out and I believe that’s what happened. They have metal shoes on and if you get a kick from a horse it can be very serious.
“Horses don’t mean to do it - if they feel frightened or threatened; if they feel someone is too close or something they do kick out but fortunately it is very rare. It is very sad.”
Nick Rust, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said it was not yet able to confirm the circumstances surrounding Dooley’s death.
“Our sympathies go to the family, friends and colleagues of the individual who has lost his life, and the entire industry will join in mourning over this tragedy,” he said.