On Cup Day think about the jockeys that aren’t there
As you check the form for today’s Melbourne Cup, spare a thought for some of the jockeys who won’t be taking their place in the field.
They all have great experience, have shown extreme courage under pressure and a determination to succeed that does their profession proud.
Sadly they are also among the scores jockeys who suffer career-ending injuries every year.
As we suck back the champers, its sobering to note forty per cent of jockeys have had a fall that prevented them from riding in the past 12 months In 200 years of organised racing, 308 jockeys have died in racing accidents; that we know about.
Over the next decade we can expect another 12 to 15 to die on the job. Many more will suffer horrific accidents resulting in permanent disability, like quadriplegia and brain injury.
So as we await the starters order, let’s pay tribute to a few of the riders who didn’t make the Cup:
Paul Goode had been riding for 15 years when he fell head first from his horse at Royal Queanbeyan in June of 2009. The fall left him paralysed from the upper chest down. Before his fall he was riding 4-5 days a week but afterwards found himself confined to hospital for seven months and unable to ride again. He suffers ongoing back pain but is determined to continue his work as a jockey manager.
Patrick Ferris slipped from his the horse after he lost his balance and was trampled by other horses in the race. He has undergone a head operation –a craniotomy – that removed a hematoma. He suffered bruising on the brain, a fractured jaw and eye socket. He is now undergoing is rehabilitation twice a week, requires constant supervision and often suffers dizzy spells. He is often prone to falls at home and is unable to help his wife in looking after their baby son.
David Taggart was a highly successful group one jockey before breaking both his ankles in a fall three years ago. He estimates that since his accident he has undergone at least eight operations. Despite all these operations, however, he can still only stand for 15 minutes at any given time and is constant pain. His inability to move about with ease means he is often confined to his home.
Lachlan Fyfe is an ex jockey who suffered a terrible fall at the end of 2008 at Hawkesbury Racecourse. The fall left him in a coma for ten days and with a brain injury. The injury left him paralysed down his left side and he had to teach himself to walk all over again. His short term memory has been significantly affected and his ongoing injuries mean that he will never be able to ride again.
Ray Silburn was left a quadriplegic after breaking three vertebrae in his back when he crashed to the ground during a race in Canberra. He still remembers the feeling of being fully conscious after his fall but unable to move. His spinal cord was damaged and was swollen for some time after the accident. He says that all he really wants, since the fall is to be able to hold his kids again.
Daryl Johnson was 26 when the horse in front of him collapsed and died of a heart attack during a race in December 2007. Darryl’s horse crashed into the horse in front and he was thrown off, hitting a fence pole. His back, pelvis and wrist were broken. He has since gone through months of treatment but will never walk again. He has since started working a bit as a trainer but money has also been extremely tight.
Shaun Organ was a jumps rider before he suffered an Acquired Brain Injury in a fall in 1996 at the age of 21. The accident has affected his memory and his temper. As a result it is very difficult for him to look after his four kids. He was initially eligible for Work Cover but this has since been cut and it is now incredibly difficult to make ends meet.
This year, the Australian Jockeys Association is asking all punters to put themselves in the saddle and get behind the National Jockeys Trust.
Whenever a jockey is killed or permanently disabled a family is left in hardship – physically, emotionally and financially. The NJT is a charitable trust to help jockeys and their families in need.
The NJT has to date made 68 grants to jockeys and their families, but the NJT faces a real challenge in raising the funds required to provide meaningful assistance to everyone that deserves it.
You can make a tax-deductable donation to the trust today by going to NJT today. Better still if you get lucky, share a bit with some brave Australians whose luck has deserted them.
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