Jockeys ride high on danger list
EVERY time Ballina jockey Lorna Cook takes a horse onto the track, she knows the risks involved.
But with both Australian and US research showing that being a jockey is the second most dangerous occupation behind off-shore fishing, racing horses for a living appears to be more dangerous than previously thought.
The study, published in the latest issue of The Medical Journal of Australia, states that while Australia's jockey death and injury rate was on par or lower than other countries including the UK, Ireland and Japan, the results 'support the need to improve occupational health and safety standards in the thoroughbred racing industry in Australia'.
However, while Cook acknowledges that racing horses 'can be a very dangerous sport' she said that despite the efforts of jockeys and stewards, falls resulting in injury or death were not 'something that can be controlled'.
“Jockeys try to be as careful as they can, and stewards penalise careless jockeys, but there is a lot that can't be controlled and a lot that can go wrong in a race,” she said.
Cook said a fall could be caused by things such as a horse tripping, stumbling or even breaking its leg in the middle of a race, but that it 'really boiled down to luck'.
“There are lots of things that can contribute to a fall, and it really depends how hard you fall, how you fall, and whether other horses run over the top of you,” she said.
“Mostly it's just bad luck and things like that, and even though they (stewards) try to protect us, there's nothing they can really do to stop falls.”
Cook said that jockeys knew the risks of their occupation, but they 'don't tend to think about it'.