Emotional Paul Nicholls breaks silence on Keagan Kirkby tragic death and reveals 25-year-old’s heartbreaking final words

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EMOTIONAL Paul Nicholls has revealed the Ditcheat devastation after the tragic loss of stable lad Keagan Kirkby.

Keagan died after a fall when riding in a Kent point-to-point on Sunday.

PAPaul Nicholls says Keagan Kirkby was ‘one of life’s genuine people’[/caption]

FacebookKirkby, centre, 25, was a ‘lovely lad’ who had a big future[/caption]

The hugely-popular 25-year-old was a key part of Nicholls’ all-conquering team at Ditcheat.

The 14-time champion trainer has revealed the tragedy was the hardest thing he has ever had to deal with.

Harry Cobden, also 25, looked to the heavens entering the winners’ enclosure following a rousing win on Fire Flyer at Taunton yesterday. He  dug deep to get the better of Secret Squirrel by a neck.

Cobden said: “I’d just like to say a special word for Keagan Kirkby. He rode that horse every day, so that was for him. He deserved that.”

Nicholls said: “He used to ride Afadil every day and the last thing he said to me on Friday morning was boss this will win tomorrow and he was right.

“He used to ride Fire Flyer every day and Blueking D’Oroux everyday.

“He was passionate about his horses and his jobs. He was passionate about everything really. He was a lovely lad.

“He was one of life’s genuine people and you wouldn’t meet a nicer man. I know everyone always says those sorts of things afterwards, but he was such a nice lad that he would do anything for you.

“He worked hard and he had a very kind heart.

“It is sad, and accidents happen, but he was so enthusiastic about riding in point-to-point races. It is incredibly sad for his family and the whole team here.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with in my career. It was half an hour before the last race at Musselburgh and I said to my lot not to tell Harry  who had to go out and ride.

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“It wasn’t a case of receiving the news that Keagan has had an accident it was a case of Keagan’s had a fall and he is dead.

“We had all the stuff happen the day before with Hermes Allen. People say they are only animals but to us they are not, but that pales into insignificance with what happened to Keagan.

“The only bright thing we have had happen the last few days is the boys getting Caldwell Potter.

Heartbreaking https://t.co/0bMvUDOXZi

— AP McCoy (@AP_McCoy) February 4, 2024

“I know if Keagan was still here and he would have been excited to see him. He probably would have been the first person to say I will ride him boss.

“I’ve never had to deal with anything like this before and I have always dreaded it. It has been so hard to come to terms with and the staff on Monday were all mortified.

“I had them all in the office and me and Clifford Baker had them all in the office and had a chat with them.

“They were all absolutely devastated and they were all crying their eyes out. Hopefully we can all support each other and between us all we can get through it all.

“Fire Flyer was our first winner since this happened.

“It was poetic justice in many ways and we could dedicate that winner to him, and his owner Mr Geoghegan has given his prize money to the fund they are raising for his funeral.”

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Fire Flyer’s owner Michael Geoghegan donated his winnings from the race to a JustGiving page which has been set up in Kirkby’s honour.

The fund was set up to support Kirkby’s young family to pay for his funeral and yesterday evening had reached nearly £30,000.

Jockeys took part in a minute’s silence before racing and wore black armbands throughout the day.

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