Muir stresses concern for staff as injured work-rider seeks damages
William Muir has sought to emphasise that staff at his Lambourn stable are his first concern, as it emerged a former employee is suing over a 2018 fall that caused a serious head injury.
A procedural hearing took place in the High Court on Tuesday, at which lawyers for Maisie Beth Wood, now 25, said she had sustained a fractured skull and brain damage that have caused seizures as a result of the incident.
“I feel very sorry for her,” Muir told the Racing Post on Wednesday. “But in our line of work, there is a possibility that anyone can get hurt and we know that when we go to work with animals.
“The staff come first. The staff would be the first thing on my mind because we’ve all worked with horses all our lives and we’ve seen accidents. Everybody that works for me, I look after as best I possibly can.”
Muir was away from the yard on the morning of the incident, when Wood was riding a filly called Malaguena, who sustained an injury at a later date and never made it to the track. According to reports, the argument to be advanced on Wood’s behalf is that Malaguena was “highly strung”, “difficult to handle” and was normally sedated before work but not on the day in question.
Some or all of those details are expected to be disputed by the defence, which is being handled by Muir’s insurers, who deny there was any negligence.
“I’m not saying the filly was straightforward or a dead quiet, bus of a ride,” Muir said, “but she wasn’t a horrible ride either. It’s just one of those things.”
‘I have done nothing but try to help’
Wood is said to have been unseated, landing on her head. Then, as a colleague attempted to help her back into the saddle, Malaguena is said to have bolted, causing Wood to fall again and a hoof to strike her head.
In the event that Wood’s claim succeeds, the amount of compensation she receives will depend on medical evidence. Her lawyers say the case has a minimum value of £200,000.
“I have done nothing but try to help her all the way through,” said Muir, adding that he continued to pay Wood’s wages long after the incident. He describes regularly giving Wood lifts from Lambourn village to his stables so that she could be around her work colleagues in the following months, as he feared she could become isolated otherwise.
Wood’s lawyers, RWK Goodman, responded: “Maisie is really very grateful to Mr Muir for his concern and help after the accident. It is not fair to anyone to discuss the details of the case in the press but Mr Muir is right that these things do sometimes happen and this is why all employers have insurance.”
An evidential hearing is due to take place in the case, on a date to be determined.
Courtesy of Racing Post