Jockey died despite knowing the risks

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 11:42 06/08/2014
Ashlee Mundy
JOSEPH JOHNSON
ASHLEE MUNDY: Race fall tragedy.

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A young jockey who died after falling during a race knew the risks involved, but the sport was the ''love of her life'', her family say. 

Ashlee Marie Mundy died in Dunedin Hospital on December 31, 2012, after suffering serious head injuries when her horse fell at the Kurow races two days earlier.

The 26-year-old grew up in Westport and worked as a jockey in Canterbury before moving to Queensland.

In a report released today, coroner David Crerar said no one should be blamed for Mundy's death, but the incident should be a learning experience for the racing industry.

Cheryl Mundy said her daughter knew the risks involved, but the sport was the ''love of her life''. 

''She wouldn't have changed anything.''

The family were grateful for support from the racing industry and other jockeys. 

''We've always known, right from the start, that it was a freak accident. We accept there's no one to blame ,'' she said.

''The one thing we've learnt from Ashlee's accident is live every day because you never know what's around the corner.'' 

Crerar said Mundy's horse Elleaye was racing at 60kmh and came to an almost immediate stop when she fell, throwing Mundy to the track and causing a fatal head injury.

Senior constable Robert Murray told the coroner police enquiries after the incident found no evidence or complaint of inappropriate riding.

All horses competing in the race were checked by both a veterinary surgeon and a farrier, with no relevant injuries or contributing factors found. 

Several jockey witnesses told the coroner Mundy was a competent and experienced rider.

Jockey Jamie Bullard said Mundy was a confident rider and one of the bravest he knew. 

Crerar said he was satisfied the condition of the Kurow track did not contribute to Elleaye's fall, and noted Mundy was wearing the necessary safety vest and helmet. 

After reviewing video footage, he ruled Elleaye fell after her hooves briefly contacted the hooves of a leading horse.  

Mundy's death followed a number of similar deaths in recent years, including 16-year-old Sam McRae who fell during the Riverton Races on March 26, 2005. 

Crerar said the incidents showed horse racing could be dangerous, but participants ''accept some risk'' and he made no recommendations. 

''It is hoped, however, that the death of Ashlee Mundy will prove to be a learning experience for the racing industry and that all of those involved continue to develop safer practices for the future.'' 

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Racing Integrity Unit general manager Mike Godber said Mundy's death was a ''pure and simple accident''.

''It's a situation you hope to avoid, but in terms of how it was handled and the processes in place, I think there was a reasonably big tick for the industry.'' 

Racing was ''inherently a risky business'' though, and it was important to remain vigilant, he said.

''You can't relax and say everything's ok and we can ease up. We try to make it as safe as possible, but you can never take every risk out of the sport, like any sport.'' 

- The Press

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