A driver and his horse seem to have avoided serious injury after a "phenomenally unlucky" three-way crash on Addington Raceway in Christchurch.
Driver Terry Chmiel was catapulted a few meters in the air in the dramatic case. Chmiel drove Divinia Bellezza who was taken in a three-way collision with First Class Lady (Sam Ottley) and Held To Ransom (Robbie Close). The race was canceled and returned about 30 minutes later.
Chief stipendiary steward Nick Ydgren said just after the race, a horse started shifting and caused another driver, Sam Ottley, to be tipped off his wagon. Shortly after Held to Ransom began to move about before they fell on the track.
"Terry Chmiel followed that horse and he could not avoid it and he crashed into it and was also dropped out of the cart and landed inside the track."
The two incidents were extremely rare, he said.
"It's phenomenally unfortunate that there have been two things in the same course. One of the things that happen on their own is extremely rare, so getting two in a race is incredible."
Chmiel was taken to Christchurch Hospital for observation with a suspected injury to ankle. Ottley and Close had been checked and were back racing shortly after.
The affected horses had also been checked and seemed undamaged, said Ydgren.
The crash was a result of horses "racing incorrectly" and causing problems for other horses, he said.
AJAY BERRY / RACE PHOTOS
Driver Terry Chmiel goes to racing five at Addington as Divinia Bellezza (12) takes a dive, with Held to Ransom (2) flat on the track.
"What can happen when you have horses hit this after a start of a race."
A spokesman from St John said the rescue service called the race track. A person had moderate injuries, she said.
Shortly after the Addington crash, two horses crashed into the field in the rink of Ruakaka, near Whangarei.
Jockey Shafiq Rusof was taken to hospital by ambulance, while Danielle Johnson was shown in television pictures with her arm in a loop before she went to the hospital for observation. The two horses, Tantalizing and Boundtobehonored, were reported to be undamaged.