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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 August, 2003, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Tributes flow for jockey Kelly
Kieran Kelly
Kelly had been critically ill in hospital on a life-support machine
Leading horse racing figures have paid tribute to Irish jump jockey Kieran Kelly after his death following a fall last Friday.

Kelly, who had been critically ill on a life-support machine, died in Dublin's Beaumont Hospital on Tuesday, after suffering head injuries in a fall at Kilbeggan.

A minute's silence will be observed at all five British race meetings on Wednesday as a mark of respect.

The 25-year-old sustained his injuries when Balmy Native, trained by his boss Dessie Hughes, came down in the Joe Cooney Memorial Handicap Chase.

Champion trainer Martin Pipe, who gave Kelly his first ride in the Martell Grand National on Dark Stranger in 2001, led the tributes.

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Pipe said: "He was a very talented jockey and I had a lot of respect for him. He had his first ride for us in the Grand National two years ago.

"It's a great shock and sadness for everyone.

"We have a lot of Irish staff here and they are all very upset as is AP (McCoy). It's a real shock for racing."

Fellow jockey Mick Fitzgerald was stunned by Kelly's death: "It's a big shock especially as the signs were starting to look a bit better.

"He was a lovely, lovely fellow, a really nice lad and it's even more tragic in that he was so young with his whole career and his whole life ahead of him."

Barry Geraghty, who rode Monty's Pass to victory in the 2003 Grand National at Aintree, told the Racing Post newspaper: "I didn't think this could ever happen."

Kelly had ridden Monty's Pass when he won a handicap chase at Tipperary in May 2001.

Irish Turf Club medical officer Walter Halley said: "It is devastating news for all of us in Irish racing.

"Everything humanly possible was done for Kieran both at Kilbeggan and since."

Kelly gained his first Cheltenham Festival success in March on Hardy Eustace for Hughes in the Royal & SunAlliance Novices' Hurdle.

A proper man and a proper jockey
Fellow rider Ruby Walsh on Kieran Kelly

When his death was announced, the last two races at Gowran Park on Tuesday night were abandoned as a mark of respect.

And racegoers at Beverley, Salisbury, Yarmouth, Hamilton and Sandown will pay tribute with a minute's silence on Wednesday.

Irish racing officials have also announced Thursday's evening meeting at Tramore, the first day of their four-day festival, will be postponed until Monday.

The death was the first jockey fatality from a fall on an Irish racecourse for more than 20 years.




SEE ALSO
Jockeys hail 'gent' Kelly
13 Aug 03  |  Horse Racing


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