Disabled ex-jockey calls for harsher penalties for riding falls

Twelve and a half years after Danny Brereton came back from the dead on a racetrack – twice – the former jockey is calling for harsher penalties for careless riding.

And Brereton is not alone, with champion Greg Childs – father of riders Jordan and Tayla – and group 1-winning rider Gavin Eades echoing Brereton’s campaign for tougher penalties.

Danny Brereton was brought down in a fall in 2010.Credit:Damian White

Brereton, who is unable to walk unassisted after being brought down in a fall at Moonee Valley in August 2010 due to the careless riding of another jockey, says the spate of falls over the past three Saturdays must force stewards to increase penalties to deter jockeys from taking further risks.

Four jockeys have been hospitalised in the past three weekends due to falls, while a horse was put down on Saturday after suffering a catastrophic injury at Moonee Valley.

“Careless riding can be eradicated if penalties were more severe,” Brereton told The Age.

“There’d be no careless riding.

“You don’t see jockeys getting caught for pulling horses up any more, do you? If you do, you get 12 months to life. You just don’t see that happening.

“But they [the authorities] are passing the parcel on careless riding. Pulling a horse up affects the public, it doesn’t affect anyone’s life. Careless riding affects the life of horse and jockey.

“We saw a horse get a bullet in its head on Saturday in front of the crowd because another jockey brought it down.”

Brereton said careless riding bans should be at least one month, and jockeys culpable of falls that left them with injuries should have their suspensions start after they’ve been cleared by doctors to ride. He added that while fatigue may be a factor for the recent spate, jockeys should be responsible for their own workloads.

Eades believes the penalties should be even harsher.

“There’s a simple solution to this problem,” he said.

“Any jockey falls, and you are to blame, three months, not one.”

Eades said it had been difficult to see Brereton carry on with life following his fall in 2010, which occurred when his horse clipped heels. Brereton died twice on the track, but was brought back to life, and has spent the rest of his life battling with the after-effects of his spinal injuries. He never rode again.

Meanwhile, Childs, who has two children riding in Victoria’s ranks, says he’s concerned about the recent trend.

“I want clean racing,” he said.

Greg Childs, pictured last week at an All-Star Mile trackwork session.Credit:Getty Images

“I’d like them to race a little bit more looser, but the design of our tracks creates horses when under pressure on the turn to roll in.

“Stewards do a great job, I’ve have a lot of respect for them, but they need to keep their foot on the pedal and keep the jockeys safe when they’re riding out there.

“Three weeks, three falls, they’ve got to keep a close eye on it.”

Childs said jockeys should miss out on riding at lucrative Saturday meetings if suspended from riding.

Currently, jockeys can defer suspensions for up to eight days. While that policy has cut down the number of appeals jockeys are filing, suspensions less than a week are regularly being deferred to midnight on a Saturday, allowing jockeys to return to the races by the following Saturday.

“I’m happy that jockeys have that eight day grace period,” he said.

“But I think they should definitely need to have respect for the suspension, and that would have to include a Saturday, always.”

Stewards are yet to conclude any of the three inquiries they have opened into the respective falls.

Ethan Brown suffered internal injuries when he was brought down in the Australian Guineas three Saturdays ago.

Jamie Kah then suffered a severe concussion when she clipped heels on Newmarket Handicap day, with her fall also bringing down Craig Williams, who suffered a fractured clavicle and finger as well as broken ribs.

Teo Nugent fractured his C1 vertebrae when his horse Florescent Star clipped heels at Moonee Valley on Saturday. Florescent Star was euthanised after suffering catastrophic injuries.

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