Blue Warrior breaks through the rail at Kempton on its way into the lakePICTURE: Racing UK
Kempton drama as horse plunges into lake
A "freakish accident" at Kempton saw the John Best-trained debutant Blue Warrior burst out of the stalls and crash into the lake on the far side of the racecourse.
The 7f maiden was delayed by 15 minutes as stalls handlers and groundstaff attempted to coax the four-year-old, who was still wearing his hood when breaking free, out of the water in total darkness.
Kempton managing director Amy Starkey was quick to praise all those that jumped to the horse's rescue after they followed it across the entire width of the lake carrying ropes and life-belts.
Blue Warrior was caught nine minutes after the official race time and taken to the middle of the track where he was assessed for injury and covered in a blanket.
"The horse spooked going into the smalls and broke out," said Starkey.
Asked if the course had ever considered having an emergency procedure in case of such an incident, she said: "It was a freakish accident but the ground staff managed to coax him out of the water after he swam the distance of the lake.
"He has just come back with a minor cut on his leg but he is with the vets in the stabling area now. The owners are here and I have spoken to them."
Jockey Robert Winston, who was left in the stalls when 25-1 chance Blue Warrior burst out, returned uninjured.
The race was eventually won by 7-4 favourite Syrinx.
The drama brought back memories of similar incidents at Worcester and Windsor.
In September 2005 staying chaser Just Jolly had to be rescued from the River Severn by the fire brigade after getting loose following a race at Worcester.
And in 1992 senior stalls handler Mark Wilson, who was working at Kempton last night, was hailed as a hero by Chris Wall after wading into a stream to rescue the trainer's Barlogan in 1992.