Tragic Week for Jockeys Nationally


The Australian Jockeys Association and National Jockeys Trust are deeply saddened by the events on Saturday 8 April involving the death of one jockey, and critical injuries to another three riders.

The tragic passing of Darren Jones as a result of a race fall at Warialda in NSW has been a tremendous loss to wife Sheridan, sons Jacob and William and to the NSW racing community.

The three-horse fall at Warialda resulted in 22-year-old Tamworth based apprentice Melanie Bolwell suffering head injuries and being airlifted from Warialda Hospital to the Gold Coast Hospital where she is heavily sedated in ICU with her family holding a bedside vigil.

The same day, former jockeys Ben Saunders and Wade Clasohm were injured in a trackwork incident at Toowoomba and are currently in Brisbane hospital with severe spinal injuries.

Darren Jones was a highly regarded and respected member of the racing community, serving on the NSW Jockeys Association committee for 20 years.

“He was more like a friend to me. He did a lot for the apprentices and all the jockeys in the Hunter & North West region of NSW in trying to improve safety standards and he was a great committeeman and a great fellow” said Tony Crisafi, Vice President of the NSW Jockeys Association.

“It just highlights the dangers of the job. We have 200 jockeys in NSW and one a week go to hospital by ambulance.”

Australian Jockeys Association Chairman Des O’Keeffe highlighted the imperative nature of support for the injured riders, their families and the riding community during such tragic events.

“It is important to note that the Australian Jockeys Association and National Jockeys Trust were there to provide immediate support to the injured jockeys, their families and the riders, following the introduction of our Critical Incident Response protocols” said O’Keeffe.

“The AJA advised all jockeys at Randwick and Warialda in person of Darren Jones passing, and were provided with details of counselling assistance which was made available immediately. All other riders nationally received this information via text message.

AJA representatives attended the Armidale meeting on Monday where colleagues paid tribute to Darren Jones. Professional counselling was made available.”

AJA/ NJT representatives travelled to Tamworth to support Darren Jones’ wife Sheridan, and also to Gold Coast Hospital to support Melanie Bolwell’s family.

The QJA and the AJA have been in constant contact with the families of Ben Saunders and Wade Clasohm with visits scheduled for the coming week.

The AJA and NJT have also been supporting the family of former jockey Brian Mason, who last week suffered a fatal heart attack whilst riding trackwork in Victoria, leaving behind a partner and four year old son.

“The AJA and NJT have provided counselling and advice to all riders and families involved in the tragic events over the weekend. All families have been fully informed of the support available to them via the National Jockeys Trust.” said Paul Innes, Chairman National Jockeys Trust.

Mr Innes added “The events of last week highlight the tragic nature of the occupation of being a jockey, in a week we have had the lives of five families transformed overnight. It is for this reason that support for the National Jockeys Trust by the racing community is so important – so we can be on hand to assist during these heartbreaking times.”

883 Australian jockeys have tragically lost their lives as a result of their occupation. Seventeen of these riders have lost their lives this century; they being Darren Jones, Caitlin Forrest, Carly-May Pye, Simone Montgomerie, Desiree Gill, Ashlee Mundy, Corey Gilby, Reece Potter, Daniel Baker, Damien Murphy, Adrian Ledger, Gavin Lisk, Nicole Botica, Adrian Chan, Mark Goring, Jason Oliver and Andrew Gilbert.

The Australian Jockeys Association is the national peak member body for all Australian Jockeys. The National Jockeys Trust is the charitable organization established by the AJA in 2004 to provide financial and other support to jockeys and their families as a result of injury, illness or death.

For anyone wishing to support the National Jockeys Trust please make a donation at


The principal purpose of the National Jockeys Trust is to provide support for former and current jockeys, and their families who are in necessitous circumstances as a result of serious injury, illness or death of a jockey.

Insurance benefits have improved significantly since 2009 but there are still any number of riders from years gone by, and even from the present group, who seem to slip through the cracks when it comes to workcover and other insurance schemes. NJT has provided over $3 million in assistance to in more than 300 jockeys and the families of jockeys who have suffered serious injury, illness or death.

According to the Menzies Institute, the occupation of a Jockey is the most dangerous in Australia. It is a requirement for an ambulance to follow the field in every race. A jockey weighing 50-60kg riding a 550kg thoroughbred at 60km per hour does not allow much margin for error. Whenever a jockey is killed or permanently disabled a family is left in hardship.

There are 840 jockeys registered in Australia and some statistics that support the need for the NJT are as follows:

  • In excess of 880 Australian jockeys have been killed in race falls since 1847
  • Approximately 200 riders are injured each year on Australian racetracks
  • Combined with track work, there are approximately 500 falls annually.
  • 89% of jockeys will have a fall that requires medical assistance
  • 9% have fallen more than 20 times
  • Each year 40% of jockeys will have a fall that will prevent them from riding for an average of 5 weeks.
  • Approximately 5% of these falls would be termed career-ending injuries.
  • Over 50% of Australian jockeys earn less than $60,000 per year (before expenses)
  • It is estimated that in the next 10 years we will see 10-12 jockey deaths and 50 jockeys will suffer career ending injuries including paraplegia, quadriplegia and severe brain injury.

The NJT’s work is only made possible because of our principal partners, LUCRF Super, TABCorp, Sky Racing, and private donations and fundraising activities.