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3 corrections, most recently by emily.d.ashcope - Show corrections






In the history of Australian racing there is no other such unfortunate accident recorded as that which occurred in the Caulfield Cup on Saturday. The field of horses was, with a single exception, the largest that has ever started for a race in the colonies. When

The Ghost won the Ladies' Trophy at Caulfield in 1883 a field of 42 ran. All went well in Saturday's chief race until the horses were approaching the turn. Too Too had struggled to the front, and was leading by a bare neck, with Claptrap hugging the rails on her left, and Sardius galloping immediately on her right. The turn, which is considered the most diffi- cult part of the course, was yet some distance     ahead, and the horses well strung out were in what is really the broadest stretch of the whole track, but were crowding on the rails in order to get the inside running for the rush up the straight to the winning post. How Too Too came down is not known, even the riders of the leading horses holding different opinions as to what horses were really first down and how they fell. The mare gallops     awkwardly, and as she seemed to be tiring at the time, the most probable theory, and that favoured by many standing near the spot at the time, is that her front legs crossed   with those of either Sardius or Claptrap, but probably the former. From the stand the   white jacket and blue cap, the colours worn by the rider of Too Too, seemed to sink sud- denly into the ground ; there was a flash of struggling horses and silk-clad jockeys,   hurled here and there in wild confusion, riderless and bridleless horses dashing away, while others limped off injured. Four of the jockeys and two horses lay quite still upon the turf, and it seemed as if they had been killed outright. The crowd extended nearly   down to the point where the accident occurred, and almost before the last horse had cleared the inanimate group, the jockeys were picked up. It was at once apparent that Donald Nicholson, one of the most popular of light-weight riders, had been killed instantly. He was riding Lord Exeter, and strange to say the horse was never knocked off his legs, but the shock hurled the rider with fearful violence against the white fence, and his skull would seem to have been crushed in. Cracknell's chest   was crushed in from a blow, and he lay quite helpless, but conscious, being able to describe his injuries, and take a glass of water from those who helped him. Wyman, the rider of Sardius, seemed to have been struck on the face, and looked worse than he really was. M'Grade, who had been   on Tom Brown, looked very ghastly. His nose was broken in, one arm hung   loosely and what with dust and blood and his white face, those around thought that he also had been killed outright. M'Grath, the rider of Prince Imperial, was also senseless, having received a blow on the head   when his horse rolled over. The tiny rider Tuomey was stretched alongside his dead   horse, Uarah, who had been instantly killed, and at first it seemed that both horse and jockey were in the same condition. Com- miseration for the tiny boy lying on one end     of the stretcher was greater on account of his small size. Wyman, the rider of Sardius, was one of the first down, and as a dozen   horses seemed to roll right on top of him his escape from instant death was a miracle. He, too, was picked up unconscious, suffering from   concussion of the brain. Some of the riders were able to walk, and others were assisted to the casualty-room, but stretchers had to   be furnished for five.

At the casualty room, the injured riders were attended by Drs. Fitzgerald, Wil-  

liams, O'Hara, and others, and for a time  

the wildest rumours were circulated as to their condition. His Excellency the Governor, who had arrived not long before the race, went down to make inquiries as to their con-   dition, and on learning the nature of the fatality, left the course. Mr. Speight, chair-

man of the Railway Commissioners, immedi- ately volunteered to run a special train into Melbourne, so that those who were most injured might be sent to the Mel-

bourne Hospital. They were placed two and two upon stretchers, and carried through a lane of people to the railway station, mounted troopers being required to keep a clear path. Wyman, the rider of Sardius, was taken to the Alfred Hospital. The dead body of Donald Nicholson was taken to his home at Richmond, where an inquest will be held. Nicholson, who was regarded as the best light   weight rider in Australia, was 27 years of age, and his parents live at Ballarat. As a jockey he had the reputation of riding most deter- mined finishes. His chief successes were as follow :—The Sydney Cup on Normanby, the Great Metropolitan Stakes on Masquerade, Autumn Handicap on Empress, the A.J.C.       Plate on The Drummer, Mares' Produce   Stakes on First Demon, Sydney Handicap on Waxy, and four Epsom Handicaps on Mas-     querade, Waxy, Mister Avenel, and Espiegle respectively, besides riding many winners of

lesser events.

The horses that came down were Sardius, Tom Brown, The Israelite, Despot, Prince lmperial, Impulse, Country Boy, Claptrap, Kingship, Tarpeia, Lucky Hit, Winchester, Sirocco, Too Too and Uarah. Claptrap, one of   the leaders, made a gallant effort to escape by jumping over Too Too as she fell, but Sardius, as he, too, went down, brought him to grief. Trahan got off wonderfully well,  

and was able to ride a winner afterwards in the Windsor Handicap, Hutchins being the   only other one of those who came down able to take a mount afterwards. T. Brown, the rider of Too Too, although in the very   thickest of the mêlée, escaped almost without   injury, but the mare, who was galloped over by a lot of horses, lay for some time on the   ground, apparently dead, but afterwards rose,   and was got away with some difficulty. The   first three horses down were Too Too, Claptrap, and Sardius. Prince Imperial was   so close at their heels that he seemed to fall       almost with them. Then Tom Brown, Despot, Impulse, Country Boy, Kingship, and Tarpeia fell almost in a bunch, while Marie Louse, who was galloping with this group, was just far enough out to avoid the   horses that came down in front of her. Amongst the last to fall were Lucky Hit, Winchester, Sirocco and Uarah, the latter   being instantly killed. The fearful nature of the accident was shown in the condi-  

tion of the horses as they rose. Prince Imperial and Sardius had their bridles torn away, while the saddle on the last-named was turned completely round.   Tom Brown's saddle was also broken and   hanging in fragments. Other horses came into collision, but were able to keep their legs. Plausible rushed violently into Tom Brown while the Sydney horse was struggling to rise. The shock was so great that Plausible was turned completely round, and     Power, thinking his horse was injured, dis- mounted. Lord Wilton was also in violent   collision, and Moore, after being knocked     forward out of the saddle by the shock, clung to his horse' s neck, and came out all right. Amongst the horses, the most injured were the three who   came down first, and two of whose riders, as already stated, came off almost scatheless. Sardius is perhaps the worst of them, and it is unlikely that he will be seen out again this spring. Claptrap was very lame, and was got to the stables with difficulty, and placed under treatment. It was at first thought that   Too Too would have to be destroyed, but she improved afterwards, and can be cured. Sirocco was also cut about   a good deal, but the others seemed very little the worse for their mishaps. Ellis, the rider of Despot, who was one of the few jockeys that came down and escaped unhurt, says he got off badly at the start of the race and rode on the outside until nearing the home turn, where the field began to make their final effort. At this point he was leading the second division, which was close up to the first flight of the field, but there was a distinct interval between them. Just at the turn he saw an opening in the centre of the course, when, drawing Despot in towards it, he found at the distance of a length that the gap was made by the fall of several horses. It was too late at the pace he was going to avoid riding over them, and Despot went straight into the mass of struggling men and horses, and being immediately tripped up fell upon his back. Ellis was thrown   right over the horse's head some yards away,   and was partially stunned for a moment and on looking up he saw The Israelite galloping riderless straight towards him. Ellis put up   his arm to protect himself, and swerved so that The Israelite just missed him, striding   on ahead in front of Lord Wilton,   the last of the field, who went by wide on the outside, with a jockey on his back. Ellis was then assisted off the course. He says he was the fifth or sixth who fell. He had a similarly fortunate escape in riding Despot in the Sydney Metro- politan. In that race the horse crossed his legs and fell heavily, but happily without

bringing any others with him, and Ellis was    

unharmed. He is none the worse for Satur-   day's mishap, and is doing his work as


In the list of Nicholson's wins it will be noticed that nearly all his victories were gained in Sydney. Before leaving the pad- dock on Saturday he remarked to a friend that his bad luck on Victorian race- courses was about to take a change in that event. Just before the crash came, Nicholson called the attention of the jockeys beside him to the fact that Lord Exeter was pulling him out of the saddle and galloping. As the rider closed with the remark, " Havn't I got a soft thing to-day," he went down and was killed, The boy on Too Too believes that just as he fell he had a glimpse of a brown horse down in front of him. Cracknell's wife was anxious that he should not ride, and he, too, was rather afraid of the consequences. It was noticeable that the fact of the running ground being encircled by a single rail saved more than one accident during the day. In the Cup one of the riders was shot under the rail, and escaped unhurt, while in the Hurdle Race Malone had very much the same experience. Had the boundary been a picket fence as at Flemington both must have been badly injured. It is noticable that all the rest of the Sydney horses were in

the front rank when the accident happened,

and all suffered from it. The Adelaide horses were also most unfortunate, three of them falling and another being hindered, while one of the pair of New Zealanders came to grief.


On the arrival of the special train which brought the sufferers to Melbourne, stretchers were procured, and Cracknell and M'Grath   were carried on one to the Melbourne Hos-   pital, Dr. Williams, who had come from the course with them, attending to them on the way. M'Grade and the lad Twomey followed   on another stretcher. Tidings of the acci- dent had preceded them, and every pre- paration was made for their reception into the casualty room. Drs. Fitz-   gerald, Purdey, and Mollison were waiting, and they assisted by Dr. Williams, did their     best to alleviate the sufferings of the injured jockeys, and mitigate the effects of the catas-     trophe. Dr. Mailer, who arrived later, also lent assistance in caring for the men. Cracknell, who is 39 years of age, and lives   at Newmarket, appears to have fallen on his left side, for his injuries are confined to his right side and leg. His ribs have become disjoined from the breast bone, and been driven completely under it. He is injured internally, but it is not known to what extent, and his right thigh is considerably bruised and cut. The shock which he sustained was so severe that it displaced his heart. M'Grath, who also   lives at Newmarket, is suffering from a frac- ture of the base of his skull. Edward M'Grade, aged 25, is a resident of Randwick,   Sydney. His right shoulder blade is frac- tured, and his nose is broken. Tuomey is   the least hurt of those in the Melbourne Hospital, having had his ribs fractured. He has been treated at this institution previously for injuries received in races. Morrison, the rider of Sirocco, had his arm broken, but his case was not considered serious enough to warrant his removal to the Hospital,

and he was taken home. Cracknell   and M'Grath were unconscious when     admitted to the Hospital, but soon regained their senses. The doctors were   with the patients continually until Sunday morning. They expected that Cracknell and M'Grath would not live the night out, but as   the time wore on their condition improved. Having their constitutions weakened by the effects of training, the medical men con- sidered that the jockeys had a less chance of recovering than they otherwise would.   Many friends, including the Hon. Wm. Pearson and Mr. Mayo, owners of two of the horses which fell, visited the sufferers yesterday. Dr. Fitzgerald has taken charge

of the cases of the four men in the Melbourne Hospital. Robert Wyman, the rider of Sardius, who is aged 26, sustained concussion of the brain, and was removed to the Alfred   Hospital. He had so far improved last evening as to be able to couverse with the doctors concerning the mishap.