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'The Doctor Told Me...I Was Gone’

Published: January 10, 2020 10:35 am ET

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Those in Ricky May’s circle have been reluctant to go on the record in regard to what exactly happened last week during the Central Otago Cup. May experienced a serious medical episode while in the sulky and fell to the track before being transported directly to hospital. Now, the man himself has let the cat out of the bag.

May suffered what had – until yesterday – only been referred to publicly as a ‘medical incident’ while in the race bike on Thursday, January 2. The incident occurred while May was driving A Gs White Socks in the Group 3 Central Otago Cup at Omakau in southern New Zealand.

Ricky May

On Monday, January 6, Craig Wiggins, the spokesperson for the family, had said that May was "in really good form,” although he was a bit bruised and battered from the ordeal. At the time, Wiggins did not identify what medical issue May suffered from, but he did state that "it's quite a common thing that he's got” and that May is "going to be a lot healthier."

Now, an article by has cited May as saying that his heart stopped beating after his mid-race collapse. According to the report, the 61-year-old horseman has explained that he ‘didn't have a cardiac arrest and he has been diagnosed with hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy – a condition where the heart muscles thicken even though the heart itself is healthy.’

Ellie Barron

May took the opportunity to shower praise on fellow driver Ellie Barron, the pilot who acted quickly to perform CPR on him while on the track. Barron broke a few of May’s ribs during the hectic moments before medical personnel tended to the fallen horseman. According to May, Barron has since told him that he had no heartbeat when she got to him.

May told that he has now had surgery to implant a cardioverter defibrillator in his chest. The cardioverter defibrillator will provide a shock to May’s heart if he experiences a similar episode in the future.

"The doctor in Dunedin Hospital told me later that I was gone," May has told the New Zealand Herald. "I don't know how long for. They reckon it could have been 10 minutes. I don't remember anything.”

May went on to tell the New Zealand Herald, "I remember driving a winner earlier (two hours before the incident) and then the next thing I remember was waking up in hospital with all my family there and that was two days later."

(With files from and the New Zealand Herald)

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