Horse jockeys have to deal with a lot of dirt and debris in their face as they come down the stretch atop their steeds. They're not usually concerned about errant golf balls flying in their face. But at a recent race in Sandown race track in England, a few jockeys and horses would have appreciated a courtesy "FORE!"
During the first race on the schedule on Friday, a golf ball hit from a pitch-and-putt course adjacent to the track was kicked up from the five-furlong stretch by the horse rode by jockey Charlie Bennett. The ball hit Bennett in the helmet and ricocheted to his right, flying in front of jockey Kieren Fox and his horse, Luxford, which freaked out and bucked to the left. Fox lost his balance, fell off the horse and onto the track some 100 yards shy of the finish line.
“It happened so fast I didn’t know what had caused it but you can see on the replay it hit Charlie’s helmet and straight across in front of my filly’s face,” said Fox, according to the Telegraph. “It could have been worse, imagine if it had hit Charlie in the face.”
Golfers aren't allowed to play on the course during races. However, this ball was laying hidden on the grass track from a previous golfer's round.
“We take all reasonable measures to remove balls - apart from me and the head groundsman walking the track, you’ve got another team of 14 guys going over it in the morning,” said course manager Andrew Cooper. “The reality is that you’ve got four or five inches of grass there, and as the track is next to the course, you’re going to get balls and you often have to step on them to know they are there."
In other words, someone hit a shot so poor that it landed on the race track and no person noticed until a horse kicked it up.