FRENCH jockey Eric Legrix had a miraculous escape from serious injury when he was pitchforked into the crowd at Sha Tin racecourse yesterday off the back of a dying horse.
Legrix was last night nursing a badly bruised knee, the only legacy of his spectacular fall.
The drama erupted in the Class Three seventh event over 1,000 metres with Legrix riding Footprints for trainer Geoff Lane.
About 250 metres from the finish, Footprints lost his co-ordination and weaved and wobbled towards the grandstand rail with Legrix, in the final seconds, trying to part company from the gelding who had suffered a massive haemorrhage.
Footprints, dying or already dead, smashed through the plastic running rail as Legrix catapulted over the drainage ditch, hedge and retaining wall to crash on to the concrete forecourt in the public stand.
The jockey, a six-year veteran of the Hong Kong scene, was immediately surrounded by an amazed crowd as ambulance men dashed across the track from the road on the inside of the racetrack.
Legrix was then placed on a stretcher and, to the surprise of most observers, carried about 350 metres through an ogling crowd to the emergency treatment room at the weighing-in area.
The crowd at the lightly attended meeting were drawn to the closed circuit television sets and giant diamond vision screen which showed the Legrix fall from various angles.
Legrix was relaxing at home last night and hoping to be riding again on Wednesday.
'My knee is a bit sore and maybe it will be stiff in the morning,' said Legrix.
'But I would like to be riding again on Wednesday and definitely I will be all right for next weekend. This is the first time I have landed on concrete but not the first time a horse has taken me through the rails. It happened years ago in France when I was leading by about three lengths with about 100 metres to go,' he added.
In racing action, superb sprinter Fairy King Prawn won the $4.3 million Chairman's Prize, the last leg of the annual Champion Sprint Series, for trainer Ricky P.F. Yiu and jockey Steven King.
And it was a red letter day for Chinese apprentice riders who took seven races on the 10-event programme - an unprecedented feat.
There was joy for the Yu family, who have three apprentices in the Hong Kong riding ranks. Yesterday, the longer-serving Alex K.S. Yu rode a double as did brother Roger K.H. Yu.
The Triple Trio paid $30.4 million for a winning $10 unit. There were 2.5 winning tickets.
Fairy flies, Page 14 Robin Parke