The local community is holding the inaugural National Jockeys Trust Raceday at Bunbury this Thursday, February 12, with 100% of funds raised going to the Jockeys Trust.
Jockey Kate Witten’s ACL injury in February 2014, a result of a track fall at Bunbury, was the driving force behind the fundraising race day. Kate wasn’t the only Western Australian rider injured last year. Ryan Hill was air lifted to hospital suffering fractured ribs, vertebrae and collapsed lung keeping him out for five months.
A total of 19 jockeys were sidelined due to injury as a result of their chosen occupation. These riders include Paul Harvey, Chris Parnham, Stephen Parnham, Clint Harvey, Colin Haddon, Glen Smith, Shaun Meeres, Jerry Noske, Robert Markou, Peter Hall, Natasha Faithfull, Peter Farrell, Renee Forrest, Kate Fitzgerald, Lucas Camilleri, Jake Casey and Jordon Turner.
“My daughter was injured and spent 11 months on the sidelines which opened my eyes to the other side of racing and the need for people to put their hand up to assist and support this good cause,” Rob Witten said.
Mike Fagan of Bunbury Holden has received a fantastic response to the race sponsorships with Thoroughbred Breeders WA, Magic Millions, WA Racehorse Owners Association, Parnham Racing Stables, McMahon Burnett Transport, Statewide Oils and the WA Jockeys Association all supporting the event.
“We have been looking for an avenue to raise money for the Jockeys Trust and this presented as a perfect opportunity,” Fagan said. “We want to make this an annual event to raise funds for those jockeys who sadly end up in necessitous circumstances.”
Bunbury raceday patrons and the local community are invited to the Big Top following the last race at 5.45pm, to mingle with leading riders and the racing fraternity. There will be a sausage sizzle, cash bar, raffle and auction items all to support the cause, in a fun and relaxed environment. The meeting will commence at 1.10pm.
Leading WA trainer Neville Parnham, and his wife Carolyn are a family steeped in racing history on both sides of the pedigree. Their three sons Stephen (29), Bradley (26) and Chris (17) are all jockeys. Each of their boys have suffered injuries from race falls, and extended time out of the saddle as a result. Stephen in particular has broken everything from his collarbone, nose, cheekbones, wrist, ribs, foot, vertebrae and suffered severe concussion. Despite these extensive injuries, he is considered very lucky.
“Coming from a racing background, we understand the risks involved, we know injuries occur from time to time,” Neville Parnham said. “Your heart is in your mouth at the time until you know your boy is okay. Our sons love the game and it is what they chose to do and we support them in their chosen profession.”
Kate Witten has shown how tough and resilient jockeys can be having the most successful spell of her career last week. Kate booted home the aptly named Be So Ryski in the MGIB Plate at Bunbury on Friday, then rode her first Saturday city winner when saluting on Sheidel for David Harrison at Ascot.
NATIONAL JOCKEYS TRUST (NJT)
The National Jockeys’ Trust was established by the Australian Jockeys Association (in collaboration with the Australian Racing Board) in 2004 to provide support for riders who have encountered life changing, career ending injuries and who are in need of assistance.
In the last decade, the NJT has provided assistance to over 200 jockeys and the families of jockeys who have been killed, that assistance has now exceeded $2 million
The tragic deaths of jockeys Caitlin Forrest, Carly-Mae Pye, Simone Montgomerie and Desiree Gill in the last 18 months have been a stark reminder of the dangers of race riding.