A jockey who was catastrophically injured when he fell from his horse during a race, after its hoofs collided with the hoofs of another horse, has been unsuccessful in his claim of negligence against the jockey of the other horse. The Supreme Court of New South Wales found that the jockey was not able to prevent his horse from running into the rear legs of the other horse, and that the harm suffered was as a result of the materialisation of an obvious risk of a dangerous recreational activity.
On 29 June 2009, Paul Goode was a jockey riding a horse named Shot of the Rails in a race at Queanbeyan Racecourse. He had never ridden that horse before. Tye Angland was a jockey riding Port Gallery in the same race and the other horse was ridden by Brad Clarke.
During the last race of the day, as the horses approached the 1,000-metre mark, Mr Goode attempted to improve his horse’s position by moving into a gap, when Mr Angland’s horse came into contact with Mr Goode’s horse. Mr Goode’s horse stumbled and he was thrown from his mount and fell to the ground. Mr Goode suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of the accident, which left him wheelchair bound for the rest of his life.
Mr Goode commenced proceedings in the Supreme Court of New South Wales against Mr Angland, in negligence and claimed damages. He alleged that his injury, loss and damage was caused by Mr Angland’s negligence by riding in such a manner as to cause interference to Mr Goode and his mount. He alleged that Mr Angland breached his duty of care owed to him by failing to ride in accordance with the “two lengths” rule. He claimed that prior to the accident he had called out to Mr Angland and shouted his name.
Mr Angland denied all liability and sought to rely on the provisions of the Civil Liability Act 2002 (NSW), that Mr Goode’s injuries resulted from the materialisation of an obvious risk of a dangerous recreational activity.
His Honour Harrison J found that, based on the evidence, the gap between Mr Angland’s horse and Mr Clarke’s horse, into which Mr Goode was seeking to ride, did not close suddenly or quickly, but rather closed gradually. Further, Mr Goode’s horse was over racing. Harrison J found that Mr Goode was not able to contain or restrain his horse, that he was not able to prevent his horse moving closer to the narrowing gap between Mr Clarke and Mr Angland, and was unable to prevent his horse from running into the rear legs of Mr Angland’s horse.
As to risk, his Honour found that the risk a rider might fall from a horse and that serious injury might be caused by the fall, was an obvious risk of riding a horse and comes under the definition of a recreational activity, as a sport.
His Honour found that Mr Angland was not negligent, did not breach his duty of care and did not contribute to Mr Goode’s fall. Further, the harm suffered was as a result of the materialisation of an obvious risk of a dangerous recreational activity.
Accordingly, Harrison J dismissed Mr Goode’s claim: Goode v Angland  NSWSC 1014.
This article was written by Jackie Waugh, Wolters Kluwer Torts editor, and first appeared in the Australian Tort, Personal Injury, Health & Medical Law Tracker dated 10 August 2016.