Ashlee Mundy's fatal fall at Kurow on Sunday understandably
sent shock waves through an industry that is incredibly
tight-knit, regardless of rivalries on the track.
It is also a harsh reminder of the courage, tenacity and
skill that jockeys need to show on the track every week of
It's easy for punters to sit back muttering about a ''poor''
ride on the horse they've backed, but in an industry which is
driven by turnover, it's sometimes forgotten what these
jockeys have to do.
They negotiate and control a 550kg-600kg animal with a mind
of its own around a track with anywhere between five and 20
other jockeys trying to do the same with their own horses,
all at speeds in excess of 50kmh.
Trainers and jockeys hesitate to call it dangerous - and with
Ashlee's sad death the first as a result of an official race
meeting in seven years, they're probably right.
But that again links back to the talent and skill required to
make it as a jockey on a race day. Don't brush that off next
time you're having a moan about your $5 going down the drain
due to a seemingly poor ride.
Well done to all those jockeys turning up and doing the job
at Waikouaiti on Tuesday. Clearly, all sorts of emotions
would have been floating through their head, but I admired
Toni Direen, who also fell in the incident on Sunday,
punching her mount Puddle Alley to the lead and almost
holding on for the victory.
I'm sure the connections of News Flash won't hold it against
me, but a win for Direen would have been fitting, and I'm
glad she was uninjured when she came off during the
preliminaries for the next race.
I write this column from Alexandra, and as I wander out for
breakfast, there is snow on the hills.
In January. Lovely.
The persistent rain was not ideal for the harness meeting at
Omakau on Wednesday, but the drivers and the horses soldiered
on. It was a good effort for 2800 people to come through the
gates, although most had wisely left by the time I went about
7pm, squelching my way to the car in less-than-appropriate
Cambridge harness tonight, race 5: Luby Ann. She got it all
wrong at Alexandra Park, but she's a nice trotter when in
form. The favourite, Irish Whisper, might need this run.