One of New Zealand's leading harness racing drivers, Ricky May, is in a critical condition after collapsing mid-race on Thursday afternoon at Omakau Racecourse.
May collapsed in the sulky, a two-wheeled cart pulled by the horse, shortly after 4pm while driving race favourite AG's White Socks in the Central Otago Cup.
Paramedics stabilised May before he was transported to Dunedin Hospital by helicopter.
According to journalist Michael Guerin, the race was quickly stopped when May fell from the cart, with paramedics, an off-duty medical professional and racegoers rushing to the Methven-based driver's side.
"Very strange and potentially serious issue at Omakau harness meeting with driver Ricky May appearing to pass out when leading the Cup field with A G's White Socks," Guerin tweeted.
"He is reported to be conscious and breathing but believed to be in a serious condition after collapsing mid-race."
It is believed May suffered a cardiac arrest while racing.
According to the Otago Daily Times, an announcement was made to the approximately 5000 people in attendance that May was in a "stable, but very critical" condition.
The race meeting has been abandoned.
"One of the scariest things I've [seen] on a racetrack but the champion little bloke still in the fight. C'mon mate," Guerin wrote.
"Dreadful scenes at Omakau."
May is one of the country's most successful harness racing drivers. He has won almost 3000 races and seven New Zealand Cups during a career spanning more than four decades. In 2013 he was inducted into the Addington Harness Hall of Fame.