You punt with a fiver, jockeys gamble with their lives
Having a punt on the gallopers is a great Australian pastime. But even on a losing streak, all most of us have at stake is money.
The men, and increasingly women, who keep the industry going by saddling up at racetracks across the country day-in and day-out are gambling with much more.
Today is National Jockeys Celebration Day, the one day on the national racing calendar that is all about those people who risk their lives on the track.
Being a jockey is no easy ride. A jockey must be dedicated, disciplined and above all determined to get out there every day and ride a winner.
Sometimes they are successful, and on that first Tuesday in November one of them will ride to riches and glory in the Melbourne Cup. But too often jockeys leave the track with injuries that they may never fully recover from.
Since the Australian racing industry began, 311 jockeys have lost their lives, and in the last 12 months around 40 per cent of jockeys have had a fall that has prevented them from riding.
Today we’re celebrating the contribution all jockeys past and present have made to our sport. We also honour those jockeys who have given up so much to be a part of this industry.
Jockeys like young Reece Potter, who lost his life at age 23 after sustaining head injuries during a fall earlier this year.
We also honour the forgotten, those jockeys who have been so seriously injured on the track they can no longer ride, and for who conditions like quadriplegia, brain injury and chronic pain are common.
For these former jockeys, the adjustment to life after racing can be brutal. And for many the psychological scars never heal.
No matter how devastating the injuries, or how many lives have been lost, today jockeys and their families and friends will celebrate the joy that racing brings to their lives.
Because if you ask a jockey who’s had a career-ending fall, nine times out of 10 they will tell you they’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.
However, that love for the sport doesn’t take away the harsh reality that many jockeys and their families face after an accident - serious physical injury is often accompanied by poverty, depression and family breakdown.
And that’s why today the National Jockeys’ Trust asks for donations to help injured riders and their families. The Trust is a charitable organisation, which aims to help as many jockeys and their families as possible that are struggling emotionally and financially as a result of an injury or death.
So if you’re heading to the races this today, say a little prayer for the jockeys out on the track. And if you’re lucky enough to pick the winning horse, why not get into the spirit of the day and give a little back to the jockey who risked their life to ride her home.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…