Tributes have been paid to a ‘vastly experienced’ and ‘lovely, funny’ Pulborough stables worker, who died after sustaining a serious head injury while tending to a horse.
Ken Dooley had worked at Coombelands Racing Stables in Coombelands Lane, Pulborough, for seven years, according to a statement released by his employer, the horse trainer Amanda Perrett.
Described as a ‘funny guy with a good sense of humour’, he has been remembered as ‘highly regarded’ for his expert knowledge of handling racehorses.
Surrey Police confirmed the sudden death of a man in his 50s who had sustained a serious injury to the head while tending to a horse in the stables at Kempton Park Racecourse, in Sunbury-on-Thames, on Saturday night (October 14).
The fixture at the racecourse was cancelled, while at Goodwood, jockeys wore black armbands and a minute’s silence was held.
Speaking at Goodwood, champion flat jockey Jim Crowley, said: “Ken was a lovely, lovely guy, a funny guy with a good sense of humour.
“He loved his horses.
“It’s very sad for everybody. You don’t expect that to happen.”
Jeannie Knight, equestrian writer for Sussex Newspapers, who has been involved in horse racing all her life including as an owner, breeder and writer, said: “Mr Dooley was vastly experienced and dedicated to his work with racehorses, having worked with them worldwide and his credentials were impeccable.
“He was highly regarded for his affinity with thoroughbreds, and expert knowledge of handling racehorses.
“This appears to be an extremely sad and tragic accident.
“Thoughts must go to his relatives and all at Coombelands Stables in Pulborough, where he will be sadly missed.”
A spokesman from Kempton Park Racecourse said: “We send our deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the training stables employee who passed away last night.”
Ms Perrett, Mr Dooley’s employer, said: “It is with huge sadness that I can confirm we lost our friend and colleague Ken Dooley after an incident in the stable yard at Kempton.
“Ken had been with us for seven years and was a very special member of our close-knit family business at Coombelands.
“He was an excellent employee, very experienced with racehorses having worked all of his life with them as a jockey, trainer and jockey coach around the world.
“He was always first into work in the morning, hugely enthusiastic and dedicated to his horses and a very much valued and integral member of our team.
“I would like to thank my staff, Brian Clifford, the stable and racecourse staff at Kempton, Hugo Palmer’s travelling head lad, Dr Lucy Free and the ambulance service who we so quickly there to help Ken.
“Our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
Surrey Police said the death is being treated as non-suspicious and his next of kin have been informed.
Police added that they will be working on behalf of the coroner and in conjunction with the local authority to establish the circumstances surrounding his death.