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Jockey Keagan Kirkby killed in accident at Charing racecourse

A report is being prepared for the coroner after a young jockey died in a tragic accident at a racecourse.

Keagan Kirkby, 25, was killed when he was thrown from his horse in the final event of the day at Charing.

Keagan Kirkby, left, died in the accident at Charing racecourse
Keagan Kirkby, left, died in the accident at Charing racecourse

Police were called out at 3.30pm to yesterday’s tragedy.

A Kent Police spoksman said: “We were called at 3.30pm on Sunday 4 February to assist emergency crews with a medical incident near Pilgrim’s Way in Charing.

“Sadly, a man was pronounced deceased at the scene.

“The death is not being treated as suspicious and a report has been prepared for the coroner.”

An air ambulance had landed at the site and paramedics joined the on-site medical team as they fought to save Keagan’s life.

Paramedics from South East Coast Ambulance Service also attended.

The Injured Jockeys Fund said the horse, trained locally, ran out through the wing of a fence on the second circuit of the final race.

The statement continued: “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.”

An Ashford Borough Council spokesman said: “We are saddened to hear of the young man’s death and are working with event organisers and the Police to investigate this tragic incident. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues.”

Keagan Kirby with his girlfriend Emily Burge. Picture: Emily Burge/Facebook
Keagan Kirby with his girlfriend Emily Burge. Picture: Emily Burge/Facebook

Keagan’s girlfriend Emily Burge posted a moving tribute on Facebook saying: “I never thought in a million years I would find someone like you who cared and looked after me the way you did, I'm absolutely heartbroken and always will be.

“You were the light at the end of a long week at work. We had so many plans over the summer to go to the lakes and show you where I grew up to in Exmoor.”

Keagan worked for champion trainer Paul Nicholls, who posted a tribute on social media platform X.

He wrote: “Life is so hard sometimes, winners totally insignificant compared to what has happened today.

“Sadly Keagan Kirkby 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.”

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.

“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.”

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