More race-day falls by flat-racing jockeys occurred before the start than during the race, an analysis of five years of accident data from New Zealand reveals.
Researchers at Massey University analysed official stipendiary stewards’ reports for flat and jumps races from August 2008 to February 2013.
Researchers Charlotte Bolwell, Chris Rogers and Erica Gee, whose findings have been published in the journal, Comparative Exercise Physiology, noted that the fall rates in New Zealand flat races were similar to those in California, but lower than those reported in Europe and Australia.
Fall rates in jumps racing tended to be higher than overseas jurisdictions, they found.
Bolwell and her colleagues found reports on 816 falls in total, 418 of which occurred in flat racing and 398 in jumps racing.
The flat-racing falls represented 2.2 falls per 1000 rides.
Closer analysis revealed that 46.6 percent of the flat-racing falls – 195 of the 418 analysed – involved falls before the race had even started, while 42 percent of the falls (179 in total) occurred during the race. The remaining 44 falls (10.5 percent) occurred after the horse-rider combinations had crossed the finishing line.
By comparison, the rate of falls in jumps racing – which make up just 4 percent of all race starts in New Zealand – was much higher, at 84.7 per 1000 rides.
The rate of jockey falls in jumps races in New Zealand were at the top of the range reported in Australia, Britain and Ireland, which ranged from 48 to 68 falls per 1000 rides.
In jumps racing, 99 percent of falls occurred during the race, with only three falls, representing 1 percent, occurring before the start. The researchers found that 58.9 percent of the jumps falls were caused by the horse being brought down by another horse.
In total, 19.1 percent of the falls in flat racing resulted in injuries to the jockey, compared to 17.3 percent in jumps racing. Nearly 90 percent of jockeys hurt in flat races were stood down from their next race and most required a medical certificate before racing again.
The researchers said it was likely that the study underestimated the injuries reported and there was a lack of detail reported for some falls.
“The study found that the amount of information reported about jockey falls and injuries had increased since 2011 when the Racing Integrity Unit was established,” Bolwell told Horsetalk.
“This is positive for the industry as it provides a better picture of the events that are occurring on race-day, for both the jockeys and horses.”
Citation: Bolwell, C.F., Rogers, C.W. and Gee, E. (2014) Descriptive epidemiology of race-day jockey falls and injuries in New Zealand. Comparative Exercise Physiology 10, 49-55.