A torrid time in horse racing last month saw two fatal jockey falls within a week. As Fairfax reported, 19-year-old Caitlin was an apprentice jockey who was a professional rider in South Australia. At the time of the incident she was leading a race at Murray Bridge when her horse collapsed, throwing her to the ground. The young jockey remained in critical condition while she was transported to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where she died overnight, as reported on the website, ‘Adelaide Now’. At the time of this article a review was being conducted by Thoroughbred Racing SA to determine the causes of the incident. With the death of a second jockey Carly-Mae Pye during barrier trials in Rockhampton, the question remains as to whether enough is being done to manage the inherent risks of competitive horse racing.
An analysis by the British Journal of Sports Medicine into horse racing incidents in Great Britain and Ireland showed that while injuries in the profession occur more frequently than “even mountaineering”, the number of annual deaths were surprisingly rare, at just two between 1992 and 2000. However, the review showed a significant number of jockeys who sustained injuries from racing that prevented them from racing again.
With four Australian jockeys having fallen victim to death in the industry over the past 14 months, it seems the Australian racing industry must review current safety standards to determine whether anything more can be done to reduce the residual risks in horse racing. With the Spring Carnival season in full swing in Australia, we all hope that more lives are not lost in the Sport of Champions.