A golf ball (circled) kicked up by the leaders hit Charlie Bennett’s helmet
PICTURE: Racing UK
By Graham Dench 4:00PM 9 SEP 2016
JOCKEY Kieren Fox was left dazzled and bemused on Friday when his mount unseated him in the closing stages of the 5f juvenile maiden at Sandown after being distracted by a golf ball that had ricocheted off the helmet of fellow rider Charlie Bennett.
Fox was at the rear of the field on the John Best-trained Luxford and stood no chance of staying on when his mount jinked in the final furlong, with replays showing a stray golf ball being being kicked up by one of the leaders and pinging off the helmet of Bennett and across the front of Fox.
The rider said: “She jinked but it all happened so fast I had no idea what had caused it. When I saw the replays I’ve seen [the ball] come off Charlie’s helmet and straight across in front of my filly’s face.”
‘I’m very lucky’
Sandown’s 5f track runs alongside a golf course but Bennett, who rode third-placed Stanhope, said he had no idea it was a golf ball that hit him.
“I felt something, but thought it was just a bit of kickback,” he said. “I’m very lucky it hit my helmet not my face. Imagine being hit by a flying golf ball when you are already doing 40mph.”
Sandown golf ball
PICTURE: Racing UK
Andrew Cooper, Sandown’s clerk of the course, said such incidents were unavoidable due to the golf course being so close to the track, but added it was a rare occurrence.
He said: “With a golf course within a racecourse balls are bound to stray, and we take all reasonable and appropriate measures to remove them. We find them regularly and on a raceday, but the reality is when the grass is four or five inches long you often have to step on a golf ball to know it’s there.
“Thankfully, while we do see one flicked up once in a while, I can’t think of an instance in the last couple of years and I’ve never seen it happen with that sort of consequence before.”