TRAGIC Jessica Whalley ‘died doing the job she loved’ said a devastated Hugo Palmer, as the trainer at Michael Owen’s stables paid tribute following her shock passing.
Speaking for the first time since the passing, Palmer said no one can be certain what caused former beauty queen Jess’ death until the post mortem had been completed.
Palmer, the trainer at ex-England hero Owen’s yard, said everyone who knew Jess has been left devastated by her passing aged just 25
The trainer said the 25-year-old key member of staff had ‘shown no signs of distress’ but added: “It appears she died on top of the horse and when the filly came to a halt she slid to the floor.”
Palmer opened up to the Racing Post on the grief and shock that has enveloped Manor House Stables since Jess collapsed on Tuesday.
The Classic-winning trainer moved to former England and Liverpool striker Owen’s yard – which he co-owns with daughter Gemma – a year ago.
He said Owen witnessed the terrible scenes and ‘was in tears like the rest of us’ after arriving at the Cheshire-based yard to see second lot ridden out.
Palmer told the Racing Post: “It’s all incredibly sad as it came completely from out of the blue.
“Jess had shown no signs of distress and her family are completely devastated and so is every member of the team here.
“The team here who got to her first and performed CPR did an absolutely amazing job and the medical professionals were quick to praise those involved.
“The four paramedics were amazing and two of them were only Jess’s age or younger.
“They were unbelievably professional, but you could see how devastated they were by the death at such an early stage of their careers.
“Despite everyone’s best efforts, unfortunately, and tragically, nothing could be done to save her.”
He added: “She was very good at her job and she died doing the job she loved.”
Jessica, who previously worked for Derby-winning legend Sir Michael Stoute, initially joined Palmer when he was based in Newmarket.
She followed his successful yard to Owen’s base, where she had worked her way up into a senior travelling position.
Her shock passing – which came 72 hours after her final photo showed her smiling happily – has rocked racing.
But Palmer said he and his team are determined to honour her, either by doing something with charity or dedicating a race to her in the near future.
He added: “At the moment everyone is raw and grieving, but hopefully we can keep everyone together and get through it.”
Palmer said all those who knew and worked with Jess are dealing with their grief – and will honour her in the right way when the time is right