Australian tracks safe despite jockey deaths

The head of the Australian Racing Board has defended safety standards at the country’s racecourses after the death of two women jockeys this week.

Caitlin Forrest: Died after a fall
Caitlin Forrest: Died after a fall

Carly-Mae Pye died from injuries she suffered in a fall at Callaghan Park racecourse in Rockhampton, Queensland, on Monday, while apprentice Caitlin Forrest was killed by a fall at the Murray Bridge course in South Australia on Wednesday.

“Tracks have never been safer with plastic running rails and better cambers but we still have catastrophic injuries and losses of life,” chief executive Peter McGauran told Sydney’s Sky Sports Radio.

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“Safety equipment is better than it has ever been but with 500 to 600 kilogramme horses going that fast, the jockeys are always at risk.”

McGauran said attempts to improve standards for safety helmets had been hindered by difficulties in finding a manufacturer for a more protective prototype.

At Newmarket’s Future Champions Day, soft ground should not knock Estidhkaar off his stride when he takes aim at the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes. The Richard Hannon-trained juvenile has made breathless progress since his maiden was broken at Newbury in June, with a four-and-a-half-length rout of Aktabantay in the Superlative Stakes.

The runner-up has since shown up very well at the top table, while the ground was also pretty demanding at Newmarket that day – a factor which emboldens his chances today.