Death shows racing is 'inherently dangerous'

ASHLEE MUNDY: Race fall tragedy.
ASHLEE MUNDY: Race fall tragedy.

No one should be blamed for the death of a young kiwi jockey during a race meeting, but the incident should be a learning experience for the racing industry, a coroner has ruled.

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 Mundy died as a result of blunt force injury to her head after her horse Elleaye fell about half way through an event at the annual Kurow race meeting.

Elleaye was racing at 60kmh and came to an almost immediate stop when she fell, throwing Mundy to the track and causing her to land almost directly on her head.

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.

Jockey Courtney Barnes, who was competing in the race, saw Mundy and her horse Elleaye fall.

''There was no warning and nobody said anything,'' she said.

Barnes and several other jockey witnesses told the coroner Mundy was a competent and experienced 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 track at Kurow did not contribute to Elleaye's fall, and noted Mundy was wearing the necessary safety vest and helmet.

Following a review of video footage of the race, he ruled Elleaye fell after her hooves briefly contacted the hooves of a leading horse.

Mundy's death followed a number of similar deaths involving jockeys in race situations in recent years, including Sam McRae who was involved in a fall during the Riverton Races on March 26, 2005.

Crerar said the incidents showed horse racing could be dangerous, but he made no recommendations.

''Horse racing is inherently dangerous. Those participating accept some risk,'' he said.

''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.''

The Press