A jockey has died after falling from a horse at a race in Kent in front of horrified spectators.
Keagan Kirkby, 25, was thrown from his horse during the final race at Charing racecourse today.
The on course medical team rushed to his side and an air ambulance was also called as the battled to save his life.
Kirkby worked for champion trainer Paul Nicholls who has been left ‘mortified’ by his death.
He was a hugely popular figure in Nicholls’s Ditcheat Stables and a talented horseman, who looked after Afadil – a horse who won at Musselburgh on Saturday.
His ability was such that last November he was nominated for a Thoroughbred Industry Employee Award in the category for best rider.
Mr Nicholls wrote on X: ‘Life is so hard sometimes, winners totally insignificant compared to what has happened today.
Keagan Kirkby, 25, (pictured right next to champion trainer Paul Nicholls) has died after being thrown from his horse in Kent in front of horrified spectators
Kirkby worked for champion trainer Nicholls who has been left ‘mortified’ by his death
‘Sadly Keagan Kirby 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 and rode Afadil every day.’
Kirkby was riding in a Point-to-Point meeting. Point-to-Point is a form of amateur racing with huge popularity across the country.
But the day took an awful turn when Kirkby was thrown from horse he partnered in the final race.
He received immediate medical attention and an air ambulance was called but Kirkby could not be saved. The heartbreaking incident has been felt far and wide within racing.
Nicholls had experienced a difficult weekend, with one of his stars Hermes Allen – co-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson – was fatally injured after falling during The Scilly Isles Novices Chase at Sandown.
X, formerly Twitter, has been flooded with tributes in memory of Kirkby.
One person described him as a ‘gem of a lad’ while others said their thoughts were with his friends and family.
Governing body Horse Racing Ireland said on X: ‘We are so sorry to hear that Keagan Kirkby passed away following a fall at Charing point-to-point in Kent today. We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends, especially all his colleagues.’
British Horseracing Authority chief executive Julie Harrington released a statement saying they were ‘devastated to hear the tragic news’.
‘Our thoughts are with his family and friends, and everyone at the yard of Paul Nicholls. The entire Racing industry will be in mourning at the loss of someone so young and with such potential.
Kirkby was thrown from his horse during the final race at Charing racecourse (Picture not from today’s race)
X. formerly Twitter, has been flooded in tributes in memory of Kirkby with people left heartbroken by his death
‘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.’
A statement from the Injured Jockeys’ Fund said: ‘It is with deep sadness that we have to report that West Country point-to-point rider, Keagan Kirkby, 25, has died following a fall at Charing point-to-point in Kent today.
‘His horse, trained locally, ran out through the wing of a fence on the second circuit of the final race.
‘The on course medical team attended immediately and despite additional support from a 999 Helicopter Emergency Services Crew, he could not be saved.
‘Keagan was a respected member of the Paul Nicholls team, who joined in 2019 and who had been awarded employee of the month in December 2021.
‘He was shortlisted for the Thoroughbred Industry Employee Awards in the Rider / Groom category 2024.
‘We kindly ask that everyone respects the privacy of Keagan’s family and the team at Paul Nicholls Racing at this tragic time.’