Philip Hide takes a tumble aboard Maximix at Fontwell in England in March this year. Research has shown that Australian jockeys will fall once in every 240 flat race rides. Photo: GETTY IMAGESHorse racing in not a gentle profession and a new Australian study shows why.
Nanjing Night Net

The Menzies Research Institute has found Australian jockeys face one death in every 620 falls.

Researchers from the institute showed how a licenced Australian jockey would have one race fall for every 240 rides in flat racing. On average a jockey is likely to have 900 to 1000 races a year.

The world-first study found 27 per cent of the falls resulted in an injury and 0.2 per cent resulted in death.

But after a bad run around the tracks in recent weeks jockeys don’t need statistics to show that risk comes with the ride.

On Tuesday champion Newcastle jockey Allan Robinson and fellow rider Scott Thurlow were involved in a two horse fall in Cessnock.

Meanwhile Jockey Patrick Ferris was placed in an induced coma at John Hunter Hospital after suffering severe head injuries in a fall at Muswellbrook last Monday week.

Veteran Dubbo jockey Greg Ryan said he had become “immune” to the mental effect of risking a fall.

Dealing with falls was “second nature” for a jockey whose pedigree includes about 15,000 races and another 15,000 rides in training over two decades.

“I have had my fair share of (falls) more than I can count on my fingers,” he said.

“If something is going to happen it’s going to happen.

“You get immune to it after a while, it’s part of the risk, part of the game.”

For Dubbo apprentice jockey Kody Nestor falls were something riders tried to block out.

“It’s not a good thing to see but you can’t let those things affect you,” he said.

“If you let it play on your mind that’s when you lose concentration and that’s when mistakes happen.

“It’s been an ordinary few weeks. There were some falls at Cessnock (Tuesday) as long as they are alright, which hopefully they are, you can’t dwell on it too much.”

The Hobart-based institute studied 74,873 races conducted at more than 10,000 meets between 2002 and 2006.

The races resulted in 3,101 falls with 836 injuries.

Peta Hitchens who co-authored the report said the experience of both jockey and horse were important factors to include in a fall and injury prevention strategy.

“This is only the beginning. It is vital to safety in the thoroughbred racing industry in Australia that the risk factors for falls and injuries are further investigated,” she said.

The study was published online in the international journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine and the institute said it had taken the “first steps towards developing appropriate interventions to reduce the number of jockeys injured or killed in thoroughbred horse racing”.

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