Champion jockey Paul Carberry has warned how plans for a giant wind farm beside his stables will spell danger for riders.
Grand National winner Paul, 41, is the main jockey for top trainer Noel Meade at TuVa stables in Castletown, Co Meath, an area which is set to be dominated by dozens of massive turbines.
Carberry says that – aside from ruining the beautiful countryside – there are far graver consequences possible for those working with horses there.
He says the gigantic 169 metre turbines will “spook” horses, frightening them and leading them to bolt or throw their rider.
Adding his voice to the Irish Daily Mirror campaign to save the countryside from wind farms and power pylons, Carberry said: “These things are a danger for both jockeys and horses.
“The plan to erect turbines here is a lot more serious for those of us in the horse racing industry that just destroying the beauty of the landscape.
“The size of them – they are huge – and the movement of the rotor blades, moving the whole time and causing shadows, it will spook the horses.
“Horses have a natural radar for danger and are always on the lookout for predators. A sudden shadow in their vision will alarm them and if you’re on the back of that horse – well, good luck. They can duck from it suddenly, or throw you, or bolt.
“One horse reacting could trigger the rest of them doing the same thing and then you have a very dangerous situation.
“It would take a horse a very long time to get used to a wind turbine, and there is a good chance that a jockey could get seriously injured, or even killed, in the meantime. It will be too late.
“Horses are creatures of instinct and a huge shadow will spook them, I believe.”
The Beef or Salmon and Bobbyjo jockey was so concerned about the issue that he joined trainer Meade to speak at a public meeting by An Bord Pleanala in Kells, Co Meath,.
He said: “This is a serious matter and I’m very passionate about making people realise the effects it could have on horses. That’s why I spoke out at the meeting. Perhaps hearing from myself and Noel might help the powers that be rethink this plan.”
Racing legend Meade – Irish champion trainer eight times and chairman of the Irish Horse Trainers Association – also said turbines pose a threat to both jockeys and horses.
He warned: “A jockey could get killed because of these enormous turbines. Horses scare easily, and if one bolts with a jockey, no matter how good that jockey is, God Almighty won’t stop him. I believe someone could end up getting killed because of them.”
He told the public meeting that he believed the Cheltenham fall of a horse called Annie Power was caused by shadow in front of the hurdle. Meade put in an objection to application for construction of the 46 turbines in North Meath.
A company called Element Power wants to build the gigantic turbines in a €240million development of three clusters near Noel’s stables, where he has more than 120 prize horses in training.
The proposed generators are so big they would dwarf The Spire on Dublin’s O’Connell Street – the rotors alone are the width of Croke Park.
He suggested the Cheltenham fall of a horse called Annie Power was caused by shadow in front of the hurdle.
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