ABERGAVENNY born horse racing trainer Sam Thomas was among five people involved in a helicopter crash on Tuesday.
Former jockey, Mr Thomas, who now lives in Cardiff, is understood to have not been seriously injured and to have been released from hospital following the crash, which left racehorse owner Dai Walters with serious injuries.
In 2008 Mr Thomas won the famous Cheltenham Gold Cup, riding the 9-4 second favourite Denman, in a formidable victory over his stable-mate, reigning title- holder, and the 10-11 favourite Kauto Star ridden by Ruby Walsh.
According to Sky Sports Racing, Mr Thomas returned home following the crash with minor injuries, with Mr Walters remaining in hospital at Ysbyty Glyn Clwyd.
The helicopter crashed in woodlands close to the village of Llanelidan at around 5.30pm on Tuesday and an investigation has been launched by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.
A spokesman for the AAIB said, “An accident near Ruthin, North Wales involving a helicopter has been notified to the AAIB.
“An investigation has been launched and a team of inspectors are at the accident site.”
Inspector David Cust of North Wales Police said, ”Officers attended alongside colleagues from Welsh Ambulance and North Wales Fire and Rescue as part of a joint emergency response. All the occupants have been accounted for, with four people having been taken to hospitals across the area. None of the injuries are thought to be life-threatening or life-changing at this time.”
Residents have told the BBC that it was obvious that the helicopter was ‘in trouble’ immediately before the crash.
Eye witness Huw Howatson, said, “I watched it happen and I was filming the helicopter. I could see it was in trouble and it hit some trees and I had to get out the way.
“A piece of propeller came away. We had to scarper because there was lots of debris, it was just flying everywhere - it was like a movie.”
Mr Thomas, who is 38 and a former Welsh Grand National winning jockey, trains a number of horses owned by Mr Thomas and they had a horse running at Warwick on Tuesday. It’s understood however that the helicopter passengers had been guests at a pheasant shoot on land belonging to by Sir Philip Naylor-Leyland, who owns Nantclwyd Hall near the village.
Mr Walters, the multi millionaire chairman of Ffos Las racecourse is believed to have sustained serious injuries and remains in hospital.
The British Horseracing Authority has wished everyone involved in the crash a swift recovery.