All corners of the world pay respects to widely-travelled Dooley
Condolences have come in from all around the world for groom Ken Dooley, who died in a tragic stable incident at Kempton on Saturday, with his boss, trainer Amanda Perrett, hoping that depth of feeling will be of some comfort to his family.
Dooley, who was in his 50s and married, was a hugely popular member of Perrett's West Sussex team. He died of his injuries after he was believed to have suffered a kick to the head from a horse in the racecourse stables.
Dooley was widely travelled and had worked in yards in the US and Japan as well as other training centres in Britain.
One of the horses he looked after was Intermodal, a winner on his second start last year and who finished 11th at Windsor on Monday.
Perrett said: "It’s very difficult for his family and for all of his friends back at Coombelands. He’d been very much part of our lives for the last seven years. He’d lived at Coombelands for 11 months of the year.
"He was hugely experienced in every walk of life in the racing industry – riding, training, jockey coaching – and was a tremendous asset. He always knew how fast he was going, knew his horses inside out.
"Racing was Ken’s life. He was just one of those wonderful 4.30-in-the-morning guys. He never ever had anything other than a great big grin on his face. He was one of the world’s enthusiastic guys and we’re very sorry we’ve lost him."
Perrett, speaking on At The Races, added: "The whole racing industry is feeling it. I’ve had condolences from Japan, America, every corner of the globe has been in touch, and I hope that will be some comfort for his family."
Dooley's death is the subject of a police investigation and the details have been passed to the Surrey coroner's office.
Emergency crew from South East Coast Ambulance Service were on the scene five minutes after being called out.
A spokesman said: "We were called just after 8.40pm to Kempton Park racecourse. Two ambulances and two paramedic cars attended the scene and they sadly had to pronounce one male patient dead at the scene. He had serious injuries that proved fatal."
Members of the racecourse medical team and another groom Pete McCulloch, travelling head lad to Hugo Palmer, tried to save Dooley before the ambulance arrived.
George McGrath, chief executive of the National Association of Stable Staff, said Dooley's death highlighted the risks of working with racehorses.
"Ours is an incredibly dangerous job," said McGrath. "I've always likened what we do to almost working with Formula One cars.
"These are highly strung thoroughbred racehorses. At the point they're racing they're at their fittest and most volatile, and the experience and skill that goes into looking after these animals and keeping them calm is considerably underestimated by the general public, and probably by some in the racing industry as well.
"I'm not sure if Saturday's incident could have been avoided, no matter what measures were taken, but it does demonstrate very clearly just how skilled racing staff are."
He added: "Peter McCulloch did wonders trying to revive him. It's actually the second time Peter has done this because two years ago a very close friend of mine and Peter's suffered a heart attack on a golf course. Both of us have first-hand experience of having to resuscitate. On that occasion we were successful, on this occasion poor Ken couldn't be saved."