Day At The Track

Two seriously injured in cup pileup

02:20 PM 31 Mar 2020 NZDT
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Airlifted by helicopter to hospital
Westpac Life Saver Rescue helicopter

Two drivers are recovering in hospital after a sickening fall in the main event at the Inverell harness racing meeting on Sunday afternoon.

The field in the 2020 Inverell Cup had travelled only a short distance when the pole horse stumbled and fell, with the incident causing a chain reaction that brought down several other runners and completely disrupted the field.

Reinswomen Elly Chapple and Sarah Rushbrook were seriously injured and were airlifted by helicopter to hospital.

Both are reported to be in a stable condition with multiple fractures as well as other injuries.

Fellow reinsman Brad Elder, of Maitland, who was also involved in the fall, but escaped unharmed, said it was alarming to see it all unraveling.

"I was on the back row drawn beside Sarah. I saw her get catapulted out when the one in front of her went down.

It looked like she was thrown about five metres up into the air," Elder said.

"I fell out, but I was a bit lucky and didn't even get a mark. I got up and ran to the number one horse who was the first to go because it was still down on the track. I just sat on his head waiting to get help," he said.

"His driver was okay. I think he landed on the horse beside him, which was being driven by Elly, who got caught up in it all. It was nasty. Let's just hope both the girls get better quickly."

Elly Chapple

Local ambulance paramedics stabilised the pair at the track before transporting them to Inverell airport where the Westpac Life Saver Rescue helicopter was waiting with a doctor on board. They were further treated by the Critical Care Medical team before flying to Lismore Base Hospital.

Sarah Rushbrook's older sister Rebecca, posted yesterday afternoon that after being thrown from the sulky, Sarah went into the railing.

"Her right femur is broken upper midway and she has a broken tailbone and a bunch of cracked ribs. She hit her head, but the helmet did its job," Rebecca's post said.

"After surgery we'll know if the broken vertebra is pressing on her spine. If this is the case, Sarah will be transferred to the Gold Coast which will be awkward as she will be there on her own with the border closures.

"She is in good spirits and already talking about when she can get back in the gig."

Rebecca said one of the doctors who'd examined Sarah had English as a second language, referring to the sport as "chariot racing".

"Watching how tough she is I think it's fair enough to call her a Gladiator!" Rebecca posted.

Sarah Rushbrook

Inverell Harness Racing Club shared a message on behalf of Julie and Dean Chapple, parents of Elly, expressing thanks to the community for the unbelievable support.

"We received so much help on the track and later travelling to Lismore. Thanks goes out to the clerks of the course Dwayne Dixon and Col Mathers along with club secretary Kerry Miller-who is a nurse in her working life away from harness racing."

Elly Chapple was still undergoing scans yesterday but is believed to have a broken elbow. All horses escaped serious injuries.

The incident forced the final two races on the Inverell program to be abandoned.

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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