The horse community in Australia is coping with a crash that killed one person, injured others and led to the deaths of several horses days before the Australian National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Futurity.
The New South Wales Police Force reported a truck carrying three people and 17 horses went off the road and rolled into a culvert at about 10:40 a.m., May 26 north of the city of Dubbo. That’s about 240 miles northwest of Sydney, Australia.
Officials said a 64-year-old man was killed and two others – a 32-year-old man and 16-year-old boy – were injured in the crash. Authorities did not name the victims, but multiple media reports identified the deceased as Australian harness racing figure Ken Smith and the injured as Ken Smith’s son, cutting horse trainer Trent Smith, and Ken Smith’s grandson, Nick.
On its Facebook page, NCHA Australia expressed its sympathies to the Smith family and shared a Go Fund Me page dedicated to raising money for the family.
“The NCHA and its members would like to send their sincerest condolences to Trent Smith and his family tonight for their tragic loss,” the association said in a May 26 post. “Our deepest thoughts are with you and your family at this time and in the coming months.
“Thank you also to the members and friends who travelled so urgently to assist. We are thinking of you all at this time.”
The Go Fund Me page said the family was traveling to a horse event in Central New South Wales, which is in southeast Australia, when the truck went out of control, hit a culvert and rolled.
Nine horses from the truck were euthanized on site. Another eight were sent to a veterinary clinic for treatment. Police did not release the names of the horses or the conditions of the surviving animals, saying only they had been told the animals ranged in value from $50,000 to $200,000 each.
“The Smith family are incredibly grateful for the love and support received from friends, family and the wider equine community,” read the Go Fund Me page, which was created by Jade Johnson. “They are a strong resilient family and will get through this together.”
The US-based NCHA also expressed condolences on its Facebook page. It shared a link to another Go Fund Me page raising money for the Smith family.
In addition, the group Cutters In Action is hosting an online fundraiser called the Smith Family Stallion Auction. Featuring breedings to top reined cow horse and cutting stallions in the United States and Australia, the auction went live Friday, June 1, in the United States.
John Dumesny, chief executive of Harness Racing NSW, extended his condolences to Ken Smith’s widow, Sue, and her family.
“It is with sadness that I extend my condolences on behalf of the Board of HRNSW and the Industry at large to Sue Smith and her family on the tragic passing of her husband Ken this morning,” Dumesny said in a Facebook post. “Ken, an institution in the harness racing fraternity especially in the Young district, lost his life in a motor vehicle accident. Also injured in the accident were Ken and Sue’s son Trent and grandson Nick, both of whom our prayers are with for a recovery from their injuries.”
Police say the 16-year-old suffered head injuries. He was flown by helicopter to Westmead Hospital for treatment.
Police have not said what they believe caused the vehicle to go off the road, but in a statement reported charges were filed against the 32-year-old driver of the vehicle – who they did not name but was identified by Australia’s The World News and other media outlets as Trent Smith.
The charges were dangerous driving occasioning death, dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm, negligent driving occasioning death, negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm and causing bodily harm by misconduct in charge of a motor vehicle.
The driver, who police say had minor injuries in the crash, was released pending an upcoming court hearing, according to the statement from New South Wales Police Force.
A past Australian NCHA Futurity Open Champion, Trent Smith was slated to ride several horses in this year’s Futurity. The show was to begin two days after the crash at the Australian Livestock & Equine Events Centre in Tamworth, New South Wales.
Among the horses injured in the crash was the 2016 NCHA Australia Futurity Open Champion Moore Metal, an Australian-born son of Equi-Stat Elite $19 Million Sire Metallic Cat and the One Moore Playboy mare One Moore Annie. Smith was due to ride the earner of $86,621 in the Classic Challenge Open at this year’s show.
Details of the stallion’s injuries haven’t been released.
In addition to Moore Metal, a number of horses Smith was due to ride in the Futurity Open also were listed as scratched on the online draw sheets, including Classical Stiletto, Maximus Metallica, JMD Platinum, MC Can Cut It and Split Decision.
In the Derby Open, Smith and Sparkys A Dreamer (High Brow CD x Merry Little Dreamer x Dual Rey), Madam Tassard (Tassa Lena x Doubledosa Cool x Dually Cool), Tapt Dancin Queen (High Brow Cat x Tapt Twice x Dual Pep) and Truclass Triffic (Dual Rey x Truclass Slick Chick x Smooth As A Cat) were crossed out on the draw sheet.
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** NOTE: This story has been updated with details of the online fundraiser and that Moore Metal was one of the injured horses.