Black armbands for fallen jockey Mundy

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 15:22 31/12/2012

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Jockeys will mark the death of colleague Ashlee Mundy by wearing black arm bands in the seventh races at meetings tomorrow.

Popular jockey Mundy crashed to the track in race seven at Kurow, in north Otago yesterday after her horse Elleaye clipped heels at the 600-metre mark. Mundy fell into the path of following horses.

Jockeys in the seventh races tomorrow, New Year's Day, at Waikouaiti, where Mundy had been due to race, Ellerslie and Hastings would be wearing black armbands to mark her death.

There would also be a minute's silence on-course 20 minutes before the first races.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident," New Zealand Jockeys' Association president Dave Taylor said today.

Mundy, 26, had serious head injuries and was taken by helicopter to Dunedin Hospital. She failed to recover and her life support was switched off in the presence of family and close friends.

Partner Brad Frew arrived in Christchurch this morning and drove to Dunedin to be with Mundy's parents.

Her funeral will be held in her home town of Westport on Friday, and there will be mourning on both sides of the Tasman, with a memorial service to be held for Mundy on the Gold Coast in Queensland the same day.

Gold Coast-based trainer Bevan Laming said: "There's a lot of people she's been associated with that will turn up and hopefully we can try and ease the pain a bit."

Mundy, born and raised in Westport, shifted across the Southern Alps in 2004 and became apprenticed to the leading stable of Michael Pitman at Riccarton. She moved to Queensland two years ago with Frew, to continue her riding career on the Gold Coast.

But the country girl was never going to miss out on her favourite time of the year in New Zealand and came back for the holiday period to ride on the South Island racing circuit.

The Racing Integrity Unit, which oversees racing in New Zealand, will carry out a review of the incident, while police and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is also investigating.

GallopSouth general manager Malcolm Little said the industry was devastated.

"Ashlee's a bubbly personality. She got on extremely well with all the owners and in particular a group of owners that I'm involved with. They think the world of her," he said.

In a Boxing Day interview, Mundy said she had spent Christmas Day with her parents in Westport.

"It's the first Christmas I've had with them for 10 years," she said.

Mundy had been working at Kenny and Lisa Rae's Riccarton stable in Christchurch during her stay.

According to New Zealand Racing, Mundy rode 232 career winners here, including four in listed races. She had ridden 43 winners in Queensland.

Trainer Lisa Rae said the mood was sombre at the Riccarton racecourse this morning.

"Today it's very quiet - a very subdued morning. For all the jockeys, it touches home because it could have been one of them," she said.

Mundy had worked for the Raes on and off for the past four years and was considered a part of the family.

"She's one of the best," Lisa Rae said.

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"She's just so kind to the animals. There wouldn't be a morning she wouldn't cuddle up to whatever horse she jumped on. It's not just a job for her.

"She's so lovely. I just can't say enough about how lovely she is.

"She is one of the special people in racing."

Lisa Rae said that while Mundy returned at the end of every year she had not spent Christmas with her family on the West Coast for a long time as she normally rode in the Boxing Day races.

"That will mean a lot to them [that they got to spend Christmas with her]," she said.

The trainer, who was watching the race on television, said she was not sure what had caused Mundy's horse to fall.

Another horse also fell, dislodging its jockey, who was uninjured.

Kenny Rae said Mundy had an affinity with horses.

She had won four races on one of their horses that no-one else could win on, he said.

"She just has a natural instinct with horses, animals and people," he said.

Gold Coast-based trainer Laming said Mundy was "loyal, hard-working and reliable".

"She was a lovely person, really bubbly - she'll be sadly missed," he said.

Mundy rode her last winner for Laming last month.

"She was never frightened of anything. She was a very competent rider," he said.

Constable Craig Bennett, of Kurow, who was at the racetrack yesterday, said Mundy's horse fell after its legs clipped another horse.

He said six horses behind Mundy had "nowhere else to go" and ran "over the top of her".

Another jockey who came off was further back in the field and could be avoided, Bennett said.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing chief executive Greg Purcell said it was a sad day for the racing community.

"All our thoughts are with Ashlee's family at this terrible time," he said.

Racing Integrity Unit Co-chief Stipendiary Steward Ross Neal said due the closeness of the jockey community any riders who weren't feeling up to riding at tomorrow's popular Waikouaiti meeting would be exempt from their mounts for the day.

He said he expected it to be a sombre day across the industry, with Mundy a popular figure.

Mundy's death is the first time a jockey has died in New Zealand from injuries suffered in a race day fall since 2005 when 16-year-old Sam McRae died. He was dragged for 900 metres after his foot became entangled in the stirrups at a Riverton meeting.

- Stuff

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