Jockey's death 'devastating'

Ashlee Mundy
Ashlee Mundy
Organisers of Sunday's Kurow races and jockeys have been left devastated by the death of jockey Ashlee Mundy.

Gallop South general manager Malcolm Little said he knew Mundy "very, very well'' and was "absolutely devastated'' by her death today following a fall.

He had known her since she started as an apprentice, and had involvement with horses that Mundy rode.

"She is a very good wee friend. It's absolutely devastating. It was a really nice day and it put an absolute dampener on the day for a lot of us.''

He believed most of the spectators had been oblivious to the seriousness of the fall, but he and Mundy's fellow jockeys realised it was a major spill.

"It was quite traumatic, really.''

The jockeys would also be devastated at the news of her death, he said.

"Some of them may not be able to ride. It will affect them.''

Stipendiary steward Mark Davidson said he would speak collectively to all jockeys taking part in the meeting at Waikouaiti on New Year's Day.

Jockeys would be allowed to pull out of the race "with no consequences'', he said.

"We don't want anyone out there riding that's not concentrating on what they are doing.''

However, he said he was sure Mundy would have wanted the meeting to go ahead and at this stage the New Year's Day meeting would still happen.

Little said the cause of the accident would be determined in due course, but it was "possible'' it could have been caused by horses clipping heels.

Little stressed the track conditions at Kurow on the day had been safe.

"There is absolutely nothing to do with the track. The track is perfect. It's an incident in the race.''

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing chief executive Greg Purcell said the industry was in shock.

"All our thoughts are with Ashlee's family at this terrible time. This is a very sad day for them and for the wider racing community in New Zealand.''

Ashlee was apprenticed to Michael Pitman in Christchurch on March 2 2004 and rode her first winner the same year, on August 29, on Starkay at Oamaru.

She really hit her straps as an apprentice jockey in the 2006-07 season, riding 45 winners, before topping that with her best season of 52 winners in 2008-09.

She rode a total of 232 winners in New Zealand, including four black type races. She has been riding in Australia for the last few years and had ridden 43 winners in Queensland.

Mundy's family lives in Westport and she had returned to New Zealand for a holiday and riding.

Since arriving back in New Zealand shortly before Christmas, she was dislodged by a horse at Ashburton on December 21 and stood down from the rest of her rides, before getting clearance for the Tapanui meeting at Gore and gaining two second placings.

She had six rides booked at Wingatui on Boxing Day and picked up a third, before regaining her winning form in New Zealand by guiding a 3yr-old gelding, Fintorro, to victory at Timaru on Friday.