A MOTHER has spoken of her horror after believing that her little girl had been killed before her eyes at Newbury Racecourse.
What was supposed to be a happy family day out and eight-year-old Ruby Grace’s first ride on a pony as an attraction at the Dubai Arabian International Raceday nearly ended in tragedy.
Ruby was repeatedly kicked in the chest and face after being thrown from a pony and dragged behind the animal after it reared up.
Her face and chest were left with bruising and lacerations, which required plastic surgery.
Ruby’s mother Donna said that her daughter’s screams still haunted her a month after the terrifying incident.
She said: “I stood there watching her being kicked and thought ‘oh my goodness this is it’.
“I really did think that was the end of my daughter occurring in front of me.
“She was very, very lucky.
“Although she has got injuries, I think they are really minor compared to what they could have been. Someone was looking after her without a doubt.”
Mrs Grace said the week after the incident had been difficult for Ruby and the family and that Ruby had become quiet and withdrawn.
“She didn’t want to look at herself. She’s a dancer, so it’s all about presentation and smiling,” said Mrs Grace, but she added that Ruby’s extended dance family had looked after her and made her feel better.
She added that Newbury Racecourse had been excellent in dealing with the family.
West Berkshire Council has launched an investigation into the incident, but the family say they have been saddened at the lack of response from the Arabian Racing Organisation and the Dubai International Arab Races.
Mrs Grace said that video footage shows that Ruby’s foot was placed in a loop above the stirrup, which she believes contributed to her daughter being unable to free herself.
A small piece of plastic flying in front of the pony is also believed to have spooked the animal.
“We are quite disappointed that for an eight-year-old girl we have not received any well-wishes at all.
“I think that’s quite sad.
“At this moment we are not taking any legal action; we are just a family trying to deal with this trauma and getting through it.”
The family, from Swindon, had planned to holiday in Turkey this week, but cancelled following the surgeon’s advice.
“This time next year it will be a memory but here and now it’s a living nightmare,” said Mrs Grace. “It’s ruined the summer for us. What we want is that no other family has to endure this.”
A spokesman for West Berkshire Council, Martin Dunscombe, said: “We’re investigating the circumstances of this incident to establish whether any health and safety offences were committed.
“However, at this early stage we don’t have a definitive timescale and will be led by our enquiries.”
A spokesman for Newbury Racecourse said: “This event is held at the racecourse but the organisation of the non-racing activities, both in advance and on the day, is handled by the DIAR committee, with the Arabian Racing Organisation largely responsible for the racing activities.
“On the day itself, our in-house operations team handled the immediate aftermath of the accident and kept in touch with the girl’s family over the following few days.
“On the same day that the accident happened, we contacted the Health and Safety Executive and informed our local environmental health officer early the following day.
“The EHO visited the premises later that week as part of an investigation into the incident, which is ongoing, as a result of which we cannot make any further comment at this time.”
The ARO and the DIAR did not respond as the NWN went to press.