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.