We need to prevent further jockey deaths in horse racing


Peta Hitchens


November 17, 2014

A reduction over the years in rider deaths in horse racing means further tragedies could be prevented. 
Horse racing claimed the lives of three jockeys recently – two in Australia and one in the United States – and some prominent industry professionals have openly claimed that deaths in racing are part of the sport. But changes made in the past to the racing industry have led to a reduction in jockey deaths – and more could be done now.

The latest tragedy was young jockey Caitlin Forrest who died last month in hospital after after a four-horse fall at Murray Bridge, in South Australia. This followed only a day after jockey Carly-Mae Pye’s life support was turned off after falling during a jump out at Callaghan Park in Queensland.

Thoroughbred Racing South Australia chief executive Jim Watters was quoted soon after Forrest’s death saying:

Racing is one of those sports where there are dangers […] early indications are it was just a tragic accident.

Former jockey John Letts, commenting after Forrest’s death and that of other Australian jockeys, added:
[…] we just can’t stop it, it’s something that’s just going to happen.

In the last 15 years of my time in the racing industry I heard similar sentiments from many others. While they may be sympathetic to jockeys and their family and friends, this attitude does not encourage much-needed change. Rather, it dangerously fosters a sense of complacency that these tragic incidents cannot be prevented.

The numbers on rider deaths

It is true that falls and injuries to jockeys are common with about one fall for every 240 race rides, and one-third of those falls resulting in a substantive injury in Australia.

It is also true that the sport is considered to be one of the more dangerous occupations, stabilising at about 1.4 deaths per year nationally. Racing has certainly become significantly safer than it was 50 years ago.

100 years of jockey fatalities in Australia, 1915 to 2014. The red line shows the average of 1.4 deaths per year over the past 50 years or so. Data source: Australian Jockeys’ Association, The Fallen, Author provided

This in itself is proof that improvements to protective equipment and policies and procedures, among other things, can contribute to reduced rates of jockey falls, injuries and fatalities.

But stewards’ inquiries into individual incidents are unlikely to result in findings that are useful. Rather it is the collation and analysis of all of these incidents that will help us to detect patterns in the data that may lead to the identification of modifiable risk factors.

Are female jockeys more at risk?

There are multiple factors that contribute to deaths in racing, but does the research support the recent speculation by some that there is a higher risk of injury to female jockeys?

It is the case that female jockeys have been found to have a marginally higher fall rate than male jockeys, but this finding was confined only to female jockeys who rode horses younger than four years of age in open and restricted races.

There was no increase in fall rates for female jockeys riding in other, more common race grades. Furthermore, a study of apprentice and early-career jockeys found no significant differences in fall rates between males and females.

The piece of science missing here is the absence of medically-assessed outcomes of racing falls. In a yet-to-be published study, by our team at the Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, we found there were no significant differences between males and females in regards to the average costs, and the incidence of, flat racing jockey insurance and workers’ compensation claims per 100 falls.

Just to be clear, a jockey’s sex has not been proved to be a major risk factor.

Having said that, sex of the jockey must not be the focus in analysing the recent incidents because both Australian jockey deaths mentioned above were a result of the horse they were riding breaking down. A horse breakdown is not something the jockey can control.

A recent study funded by the California Horse Racing Board identified catastrophic injury or sudden death of the horse as the most common reason for a jockey fall in Thoroughbred (29%) and Quarter Horse (44%) racing.

About two-thirds of such falls result in injury of the jockey, and this proportion is significantly more than for jockey falls caused by other reasons.

This is likely because when a horse sustains a catastrophic injury or sudden death and collapses, the jockey falls with the horse and is thus at greater risk of suffering a serious injury – while also posing a threat to following horses and their jockeys.

Preventing the injuries

Horse breakdowns are preventable. In Californian postmortem studies, about 90% of racehorse breakdowns have shown evidence of pre-existing pathology related to the fatal injury.

In Australia there is also significant research already being undertaken on risk factors for racehorse injury, and improvements in this area will reduce jockey injuries and deaths.
Other factors that have been identified as contributing to an increased rate of jockey falls and injuries include:
jockey inexperience, especially when combined with riding less accomplished horses

  • faster/ drier track conditions
  • shorter distance races
  • bad weather conditions.

Interestingly, large field sizes such as that for the Melbourne Cup are not associated with an increase in jockey falls.
Only with further research and the determination to improve the sport’s safety, will we identify and implement evidence-based strategies to improve racing in the future and ultimately reduce the risks for both jockey and horse.

Miss Promiscuity spoils party for those loyal Lord Of The Sky disciples


 Matt Stewart
Sunday Herald Sun www.news.com.au
DAVID Hayes shrugged off a mini drought with a last minute feature winner, Dwayne Dunn pushed his nose in front in the premiership and the “legend’’ of money muncher Lord Of The Sky grew in the Monash Stakes at Caulfield.

For Hayes, who is overseas, Miss Promiscuity’s barnstorming upset win was a case of too little too late.

Hayes had been in the thick of things for half the season as a premiership contender but now sits 14 wins in arrears of last year’s premier trainer Darren Weir and seven off Peter Moody (65).

A lean autumn put Hayes on the back foot, which was a “bit frustrating’’ according to stable rep Rayan Moore, but Saturday’s win was just reward for Miss Promiscuity’s owner, long-time stable client Robert Crabtree, Moore said.

While Hayes would seem to have run out of time to win a ninth Melbourne premiership, Dunn now has a one win buffer over Craig Williams (51 to 50), with just the rest of July remaining, in his bid to win his first.
Damien Oliver, who crawled out of his sick bed to compete on Saturday, had one winner — he’d have expected another, but “expecting’’ and “Lord Of The Sky” should never be muttered in the same breath — and sits on 49.
The race did not pan out as expected, forcing Dunn to adopt a Plan B.

Most expected $2.35 favourite Lord Of The Sky to lead but the great punter nemesis found a new trick on Saturday — he missed the start.

Trainer Robbie Laing shrugged his shoulders post-race, after Lord Of The Sky ended up settling midfield, then struggled into seventh. The one-time boom horse is now winless in his last 11 starts.

“Ollie said he scrambled out, the winner struck him, then Riziz came out onto him — they both flattened him — and it then just became foreign to him,’’ Laing said.

Instead of trailing Lord Of The Sky, as he had planned, Dunn sat just off Wild Rain, Angels Beach and Minaj before cutting loose down the middle of the track, winning by 2 ¾ lengths.

“We were a bit surprised. Everyone anticipated Lord Of The Sky to go forward and we were going to sit just off him but when he missed the start we were sort of just left there,’’ Dunn said. I expected him (Lord Of The Sky) to come charging but he never did.

“She (Miss Promiscuity) found the right part of the track and really gave me a super kick.’’

Moore said the replacement of winkers with blinkers — and a now expected gun ride from Dunn — were the key factors for Miss Promiscuity.

“It was a fantastic ride by Dwayne. He didn’t panic. Everyone else would have panicked a little (when the favourite missed the start) but Dwayne didn’t,’’ he said, adding Miss Promiscuity was “a pretty special little mare.’’

2015 Sir John Monash Stakes result – Miss Promiscuity too good


Darryl Sherer – ww.racenet.com.au

Miss Promiscuity banished the memory of a last-start defeat with a dominant victory in Saturday’s Group III Sir John Monash Stakes (1100m) at Caulfield.

Allowed to settle just behind the moderate early speed set by Angels Beach and Wild Rain, Dwayne Dunn presented Miss Promiscuity ($12) to challenge around the home turn and she lengthened well to go clear and defeat Wild Rain ($11) and Angels Beach ($6.50), who dead-heated for second, by 2-3/4 lengths.

The win gave Dunn a double on the day and the lead in the Melbourne jockeys premiership.

“I found a good spot and she was happy in the ground,” Dunn said of the David Hayes and Tom Dabernig-trained daughter of Magnus.

“When I began so well and I knew the favourite (Lord Of The Sky) missed the start I was happy to be ahead of him,

“She just travelled so well and we were in the right part of the track. When I went for her in the straight she gave me a super kick,

“As soon as I put the foot on the accelerator she put the others away pretty quick,

“It’s a good result for the owners to get some black type with her and she’s shown today she’s a top quality filly.”

Trainer Mark Kavanagh was delighted with the effort of joint runner-up Wild Rain.

“That was great. We took a risk running in this as opposed to the fillies’ race and it is terrific for the owners to get the Group placing,” he said.

“She will head to the Dermody Stakes in Adelaide in two weeks’ time.”

Trainer Robbie Laing was not making excuses for the beaten favourite.

 “He looked to be awkward away and that’s not usually him. I don’t know what else to say,” he said.

Shiraz Produces Vintage Turn Of Foot At Rosehill


Shiraz has skipped away with ease to take out the Tab.com.au Handicap (1100) at Rosehill Gardens on Saturday.

With plenty of speed engaged, the old grey warrior Zaratone took up the lead as expected ahead of Howmuchdoyouloveme Horseform and Brook Road Horseform.

Zaratone Horseform, who led to the turn fought on well in the straight and at one stage looked likely to steal the race until Shiraz, ridden by Jason Collett burst out of the pack.

Having bided his time back in the field, the Tony McEvoy-trained runner swept to the lead at the 150m and ran out an easy 1.5L winner, with Zaratone and the fast finishing Casual Choice sharing the spoils for second.

Shiraz Horseform was resuming off some very good form last campaign and no doubt pleased McEvoy who will be looking to step the son of Zariz up in trip.

“Very impressive, I have a lot of time for the horse,” said Tony McEvoy.

“I thought Jason rode him very cool and presented him beautifully.

“Coming into the race I was worried about the ground he had never been on it and even though he trialled on it at Hawkesbury trials are trials but he really impressed me today.

“He has a great winning culture and is on the minimum today and we are in July but I am a real fan of the horse.

“He has won at 1400m before but he is an aggressive horse so I think that’s his limit, I would love to see him relax a bit more and get a mile but there are plenty of races over 1400m.

Jason Collett who brought up his first win of the day said the win came very easily for the horse.

“We had to make a bit of room and angle myself outwards but once we were in the clear he did it easily, the stick wasn’t needed.

“Being by Zariz I had a bit of confidence he would get through the going, most them seem to get through it quite nicely.”
Via http://www.racingandsports.com.au ;

Hard To Hold Leads All The Way

Christian Reith after Best Case (Christian Reith, outside, white cap) wins at Randwick on October 19, 2013 - photo by Martin King / Sportpix - copyright

Hard To Hold has led all the way to take out the Ruben Guthrie In Cinemas July 16 Handicap (1200m) at Rosehill Gardens today.

The Bjorn Baker-trained runner returned with a modest effort over 1100m last start and coming off a freshen up was able to get the better of a fast finishing fiftyshadesofgrey.

Christian Reith took Hard To Hold  straight to the front after jumping well with Miniature and Footy Fan also not far away.

Fiftyshadesofgrey who settled well back in the field ran on strongly for second with the fading Miniature able to hang on for third.

“It was the plan to be a little bit more positive and it definitely ended out to our favour.” Said Bjorn Baker.

“She has always been a mare that has shown a fair bit of potential and I am not overly surprised she won today.

“She will only get better, her best is third and fourth up and we will probably just look for another Saturday race now.”

Jockey Christian Reith who was riding the four-year-old mare for the first time said they had to do a bit of work but managed to get easy sectionals.

“She only has a short sprint and you need to cuddle her as long as you can.” Said Reith.

“She is a tough little bugger and all she wants to do it please you so all credit to the stable for getting her ready today.”

Racing And Sports



Miniature  moved up to Hard To Hold at the top of straight and looked likely to run away with it but the $21 outsider Hard To Hold was able to kick away to complete an impressive victory.


Today’s Tips from The Friday Fill Up Inc. The Bet of the Month 



Best Bet of the Month & Latemail Special 




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#3 Electric Power $6 



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#1 LORD OF THE SKY $2.20

Sky Racing bosses approve more exposure for Queensland racing – What about Victoria next boys?


QUEENSLAND races will benefit from increased exposure on racing broadcaster Sky Channel after a positive meeting between industry heavyweights on Friday.

Angry over a perceived snub during the Queensland winter carnival, Brisbane Racing Club officials had a debrief with Sky bosses on Friday.

As a result, Queensland Saturday meetings will be given a full and extensive preview on Sky’s premium Thoroughbred Central channel.

It is only a trial but should fix the situation which saw Queensland pre-race interviews, mounting yard coverage and post-race analysis virtually non-existent on Sky during the carnival.

“I was encouraged by the meeting. We now have an opportunity to get Queensland better placed with Sky Racing coverage,’’ BRC chief executive Dave Whimpey said.

“It is important that Queensland gets at least equal billing with the other states, and especially around Group 1 racing time. It is clear to us that NSW and Victoria took precedence during the winter carnival and we wanted that situation looked at.’’

Sky Racing 1 will still feature wall-to-wall live races but the Sky Thoroughbred Central channel is set to feature Queensland more prominently.

BRC officials have been promised the trial will start on Saturday in a deal which should be more palatable to Queensland punters.

Coverage of Saturday’s provincial NSW meeting in Newcastle will only feature live race coverage before Sky Thoroughbred Central crosses to extensive Queensland content.

A Sky spokesman said the issue of race scheduling on their broadcasts was complex and they were doing their best to please all parties.


Tragic track trend is clear but not the solution


THE stats, when interpreted over the long term rather than a catastrophic two years, say there is no trend.

The view of some, supported by case by coronial findings, is that we’re dealing not with a deadly spate but a terrible coincidence.

But the fact remains that since August 2013, when Simone Montgomerie perished in a race fall on Darwin Cup Day, five female riders — three jockeys, two track riders — have died from injuries sustained in falls.

After Montgomerie came Desiree Gill, then Carly-Mae Pye and Caitlin Forrest. English track rider Lizz Rice died in mysterious circumstances near the Caulfield pool, then Friederike Ruhle at Caulfield on Wednesday.

In that same tragic period, between Montgomerie and Ruhle, not one male rider has died on a racetrack anywhere in Australia.

The distorted bigger picture reveals that from 2000 until Montgomerie’s death, 12 males died to one female. The flaw in that test period, of course, is that in the early 2000s far less females were race and track riding than males.

It has only been in the last five or so years that female representation has grown rapidly, to the point females have outnumbered males at the apprentice’s school for the last three years. A “dramatic’’ rise, said Victorian Jockeys’ Association chief executive Des O’Keeffe.

Racing Australia chief executive Peter McGauran used that 15-year time frame to argue “terrible coincidence’’ but six dead females to no males in two years says McGauran’s stats are dated and irrelevant.

Both McGauran and Victorian Jockeys’ Association chief executive Des O’Keeffe said coronial inquests revealed the falls that resulted in the deaths of Montgomerie, Gill, Forrest and Pye were not gender related.

But still, many wonder.

A few months back Paddy Payne, the patriarch of Australia’s most famous jockey family, said females fell more awkwardly than males.

Payne observed both sexes more closely than anyone; of his 10 kids, eight were jockeys, six of them female.

He said: “They don’t roll the same when they hit the ground. It reminds him of an old horseman’s saying: “Men fall like boiled eggs. Women fall like raw eggs.”

A leading Caulfield trainer wondered, but would not say publicly, that the recent stats must mean something.

“There is a difference between males and females. Males would have a better chance of surviving high impact, surely,’’ he said.

It’s a terrible scoreboard without a solution.

Females will continue to ride and they are too proud and competitive to buy into this boy versus girl stuff.

But the trend is glaring. And if it continues lots of mums and dads out there will be giving their little girl an Ipad’s for Christmas instead of a pony.

via: http://www.news.com.au/sport/superracing/tragic-track-trend-is-clear-but-not-the-solution/story-fndprusm-1227427175992

Racing Queensland cracks whip on underdone tunnels at Eagle Farm

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THE urgency on a green light for Eagle Farm’s stalled tunnels project has finally hit home and work could begin before the end of the month.

Insiders suggest it will take eight months from the starting point for the tunnels until Eagle Farm can race and that means work needs to start by August for the track to be ready for the winter carnival.

“It’s no secret we need to get stuck into this project pretty quickly to have Eagle Farm open in time for the 2016 Winter Carnival,” BRC deputy chairman Richard Morrison said.

“If the approval comes through, the contractors can be working before the end of the month and under that scenario, barring a catastrophe, it will have us comfortably open in plenty of time before the carnival.

“We’re encouraged by the support of the Government for this major infrastructure project, which we view as very much a legacy project for the whole racing industry.”

Racing Minister Bill Byrne said a meeting of Government agencies, Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club had resolved key issues and a path was mapped out for the project which has been delayed for six months.