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By Graham Potter | Thursday, November 17, 2022

Every time a jockey eases himself or herself into the saddle, an ever-present danger keeps them company. It travels with them, mostly as a silent passenger that does not show itself … but it can also manifest itself in ways as diverse being relatively harmless to outright catastrophic.

That concern is never front and centre in the everyday life of a jockey. It can’t be. They have a job to do. They all know the high stakes game they are playing, but they do it anyway, most of them because of their pure love for the horse as an animal and the pleasure it brings them to be involved so intimately with thoroughbred racehorses.

It is only when an incident occurs that falls into the catastrophic category that we get the awful reminder of what jockeys are really putting on the line when they go into action and how a split second can be life changing.

That’s why the news was shocking when a report came out of Beaudesert that star apprentice Jasmine Cornish had suffered such an experience during official trials at her home track of Beaudesert on Tuesday November 8 in circumstances which is currently under an official pending review. (It has been suggested, but not confirmed, that an errant cone, one which had been kicked out of line back onto the racing line by a horse in a previous trail and which had not been put back in its place, played a big part in the incident).

This type of situation has come out of left field for many people over the years and so, while the story of Jasmine Cornish is not a unique one, it nevertheless a telling tale of the risks involved in the riding profession.

What seemingly has been established at this stage is that, when the leading horse, racing in the line of runners in front of Cornish’s mount in the trial in question, shied at a witch’s hat (a cone) it slammed into the horse next to it which, in turn, ricocheted onto a third runner pushing both horses into the path of Cornish’s mount, Reflecting Image.

That abrupt movement sequence left Reflecting Image with nowhere to go and the legs were taken out from underneath the mare sending Cornish slamming into the ground.

It all took just a split second.

The impact was sickening. The trauma that ensued was immense. The list of injuries to Cornish was horrendous. (The horse ultimately pulled up sore but without any serious injury)

Cornish, battered and bleeding, reportedly instinctively wanted to get up … but was held down by those who arrived at the scene first, so that she could receive immediate attention and be stabilised, but there was still an obvious huge concern about her condition when she was airlifted from the track … always an ominous sight … and taken to the Princess Alexandra hospital.

Cornish’s injuries were later confirmed by the official doctor’s report which states:

‘Fall from horse at 60km/hr. Sustained multiple injuries:

‘Burst fracture T7 vertebral body with associated perivertebral haematoma, suspected non-displaced fracture of T6 & T8 vertebral bodies.

‘Right orbital blow-out fracture.’

… and, of course, a general battering and bruising.

In layman’s terms, that means Cornish suffered a broken back and a fractured eye-socket.

As best understood, the back injury necessitated surgery which was delayed until Thursday night (the fall took place on Tuesday morning) and the procedure included the placement of eight pedicle screws to T5/T6 and T8/T9 bilaterally and also the placement of a connecting rod.

Five days after the surgery, Cornish had to undergo a final series of cognitive tests … remembering number and letter sequences, from simple to expanded, sometimes on their own, sometimes in a combined sequence, sometimes forward ... sometimes backwards, drawing shapes … being able to remember what she had drawn later … being asked questions such as what time it is, what day of the week etc … (did you manage to follow that) ... all of which was a tiring, but necessary, process in itself, and it wasn’t made any easier for Cornish as she had to tackled these tasks while still in a fair amount of post-op pain and discomfort.

That pain … on a fairly intense level … has remained a sad feature of the first weeks of Cornish’s recovery period, but at least she is home now in familiar surroundings.

As so often happens in a case when life bites back to remind us of our vulnerability, it would be no exaggeration to say that Cornish was flying in her profession at the timer of the accident.

Having taken out the 2021/22 Queensland Provincial Apprentice Jockey Premiership in her first full season in the saddle, Cornish was already starting to make inroads into the Metropolitan riding scene when that all, quite literally, came crashing down.

Of course, none of that matters now.

All that does matter is that Cornish makes a full recovery in whatever period of time she needs to do so ... and, in that, Cornish knows she has the support of the entire racing community cheering her on the finish line in the all-important Recovery Stakes.

More articles

Jasmine Cornish ...
Jasmine Cornish ...
... with her dad Greg ... she was riding one of the Cornish stable horses when the incident occurred
... with her dad Greg ... she was riding one of the Cornish stable horses when the incident occurred
Winning ...
Winning ...
The fracture
The fracture
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