By Becca Husselbee
Emergency services took part in a three-hour rescue mission after a horse who had unseated his jockey during a point-to-point race jumped into a river.
Eight-year-old racehorse, All-Star Vinnie, was taking part in his second race after being retrained by joint owner, Callum Bickers-Price, 21, at Brampton Bryan point-to-point, in Hereford, on April 7, when he fell at the second fence, leaving jockey, Jack Cundy, behind.
Vinnie, who stands a huge 17.2hh, managed to split from the group and escape through a gap in the tape, before failing to jump across the river and swimming the wrong way towards a weir.
Vinnie was left stranded on the edge of a 12-foot drop as an 18-strong crew of emergency services including animal rescue, fire crews, a boat rescue team and a vet all battled to save the horse before he was swept away.
Owner, Callum, who is an amateur jockey himself, said: “Vinnie has gotten himself the nickname ‘the wonder horse’ after his adventure.”
“We had high hopes he could win the race but he was just completely unfocused and had quite a nasty fall at fence two.
“When we realised what had happened we drove straight down in the car but one of the horse catchers had already tried to wade in to catch him but was soaked in the process.
“I jumped in to try and hold his tail and stop him being swept away further but it soon became clear that we weren’t going to get him out on our own.
“Vinnie has such a great personality and he was so calm throughout the whole thing, although he wasn’t happy about being lifted out the water.”
Emergency services cut back trees after placing ear plugs in Vinnie’s ears to keep relaxed and putting him in a harness, before drafting in a forklift to pull him to safety.
Vinnie, who is part-owned by Callum along with his brother, Daniel, and his dad, Nick, was given sedative by a vet to keep him calm, while lines were attached to his head collar in case he managed to fall.
A boat crew was also put in place to rescue anyone who was swept away by the current as Callum and groom, Helen, were asked to wear life jackets and helmets.
Callum said: “There were about 40-50 onlookers when they started to pull from the river.
“He had been really calm until then, resting his head in Jack’s arms, but he totally panicked when he was midair, thrashing around and kicking out.
“I was lucky to be wearing a helmet as he kicked me in the head and knocked me back into the water.”
Vinnie was walked back to the lorry park by Callum, not before pricking his ears and whinnying back to the fire crew it what appeared to be a thank you gesture.
He is now recovering at home, at the families stables, near Bromyard, after suffering from puncture wounds and a possible broken pelvis, but Callum believes Vinnie is the ultimate come back kid.
He said: “Vinnie is always off on adventures and has quite the personality.
“He escaped from his field not too long ago and we had to close a busy road to catch him before jumping back in himself.
“When we bought him he was recovering from a bad leg injury and we took the time to slowly bring him back into work and retrain him.
“He really is the comeback kid and I’m sure he will be back out racing.”