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The helicopter crash in Denbighshire happened on Tuesday night
By Jack Haynes
Dai Walters was reported to be conscious and undergoing tests in hospital on Wednesday after he and trainer Sam Thomas were involved in a horrific helicopter crash.
Walters, a Cheltenham Festival winner who has been closely associated with Ffos La racecourse, was one of five people involved in the accident on Tuesday night and is said to have suffered more serious injuries than the other passengers.
He was one of two passengers who were taken to Glan Clwyd Hospital and continued to be assessed after the accident in woods in Llanelidan, near Ruthin, Denbighshire, north Wales.
Phil Bell, chief executive at Chepstow and Ffos Las, said on Wednesday: “Dai is conscious and has spoken to his family. He is undergoing some further tests in hospital today for his injuries.
“It’s the Welsh Horse Racing Awards tomorrow night and this time last year Dai Walters won the award for outstanding contribution to Welsh racing. Tomorrow night everyone will be thinking of him and sending him their best wishes.”
Former show jumping jockey Thomas suffered minor injuries and has returned home.
Walters and Thomas had a runner at Warwick on Tuesday afternoon, with Skytastic finishing last of four in the novice chase. Neither the owner nor the trainer had attended the meeting.
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Dai Walters (left): one of five people involved in the helicopter crash
Police were called to the scene near Llanelidan at around 5.30pm on Tuesday night. Inspector David Cust of North Wales Police said: “Officers attended the incident alongside colleagues from Welsh Ambulance and North Wales Fire and Rescue as part of a joint emergency response.
“All passengers have been accounted for. None of the injuries are believed to be life-threatening or life-changing at this time.
“While multiple agencies remain on scene, the ongoing investigation into the cause will be handled by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.”
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The accident scene will be examined on Wednesday
An emergency vehicle and three ambulances went to the scene of the accident. A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We were called just before 5.30 last night, Tuesday November 1, to reports of a helicopter crash in woodland near Llanelidan, Ruthin.
“We sent an ambulance paramedic in a rapid response vehicle and three ambulances to the scene, where staff were also supported by colleagues from the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service and an on-call operations manager. Two patients were taken to Glan Clwyd Hospital.”
The owner has enjoyed five top-level victories over jumps with high-profile horses such as double Aintree Hurdle winner Oscar Whiskey and two-time Liverpool Hurdle scorer Whisper, while William Henry landed the 2019 Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
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Sam Thomas: at home after suffering minor injuries in the accident
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Good Risk At All, trained by Thomas, landed a valuable handicap hurdle for the owner at Ascot last season and was Walter’s most recent winner, at Carlisle on Sunday.
Thomas and Walters, along with fellow owners Potter Group, had a runner at Chepstow on Wednesday, with debutant Range running a race full of promise to finish second to Connor Brace.
The BHA wished Walters, Thomas and those on board a speedy recovery. A tweet from the BHA’s account read: “Everyone at the BHA was distraught to learn of the helicopter crash last night in which five people, including owner Dai Walters and trainer Sam Thomas, were injured. Our thoughts go out to all those on the board and we wishing everyone a speedy return to full health.”
Walters was key to the creation of Ffos La racecourse, with the Carmarthenshire track becoming the first new turf in the UK for more than 80 years when it opened in 2009. He sold the track to Arena Racing Company in 2018 and became honorary chairman.
Thomas trains at Walters-owned The Hollies Stables on the outskirts of Cardiff in South Wales. The former show jumping jockey had a very successful career in the saddle, winning the Gold Cup on Denman in 2008 and the Betfair Chase on Kauto Star the year before.
Tingle Creek, the Lexus Chase and the John Durkan Memorial Chase were on his driving resume, with Thomas joining the training ranks towards the end of 2015.
PUBLISHED FIRST AT 12.11, 2 NOV 2022
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