Queensland's Own Welcome to the best coverage of racing in Queensland Queensland's Best
Horse Racing Only
www.horseracingonly.com.au Horse Racing Only logo
Home Racing Queensland National International Blogs Photo Gallery Links Contact Us


By Graham Potter | Monday, September 2, 2019

A death of a jockey will always send shockwaves through the racing industry. Two deaths in two days almost beggar’s belief. You read the report of the second one and think they have got the details wrong. It wasn’t at Darwin. It was at Cranbourne … but then the cold reality of the double tragedy starts to sink in as you realise the dark truth of the matter.

A wave of sadness engulfs the moment. You think of the rider’s families and friends. You want to reach out and console the inconsolable.

You don’t have to have known those involved personally. They are part of the racing family and that is enough. The entire racing community bands together in support, doing what they can wherever they can, but there is also that feeling of helplessness which comes with the overwhelming feeling of loss … a feeling of loss in circumstances that, no matter how fraught with risk the race riding profession is, we can never get used to.

Just imagine the love for the horse that jockeys must have to take up a profession that impacts so profoundly on their lifestyle and brings an absolute element of danger into their lives which can prove fatal.

Many jockeys waste to meet stringent weight goals. Couple that with their severe dietary restrictions and their heavy, unceasing daily work routine that racing now demands and there has got to be a love in there for them to keep going.

In financial terms, for most jockeys it is about making a dollar and surviving. Many cover thousands and thousands of kilometres a year in that pursuit to the degree where travel time becomes another very real drain on their constitution.

Forget the stories about flash cars and all of the glory. There are those who are fortunate to have that but racing would not be what it is without the majority who never reach anywhere near that level and have to settle for far lesser rewards.

A fifty something kilogram jockey riding a 400 or 500 something kilogram racehorse in close quarters with, let’s say, ten other horses at forty plus kilometres an hour … you see it so many times every day but, until the unthinkable happens one more time, the realisation of just how small the jockey’s margin for error is and the actual extreme level of danger they face in every race is largely put on the back burner.

Also, as last Friday’s tragedy at trackwork showed, it is not only in a race where you can find serious trouble. You only have to be on a horse’s back to have danger as company.

It is an acknowledged risk taken voluntarily by riders largely because of their love of the horse and they, as much as anybody, would subscribe to the belief that the show must go on.

But that doesn’t change the numbness of the moment when things go wrong.

In relative terms the incidence of tragedy is small but it is huge in its impact.

We all feel a dreadful loss at this time and our hearts go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Mikaela Claridge and Melanie Tyndall who lost their lives on the track last Friday and Saturday.

All respect to Mikaela and Melanie. May they rest in peace.

More articles

Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best