Have you ever taken the time out of your day to stop and think about the fallen jockeys of Australia and how many men and women have lost their life in the horse racing industry?
Well, that's exactly what author John Payne from Orange did.
The 75 year-old dedicated eight years of research to remember the lives of those who had fallen in his book Their Last Ride: The fallen jockeys of Australia which includes jockeys from the Lithgow region.
Jockey deaths in the Lithgow region
- Michael Berrell was killed at the Porters Retreat race-meeting near Lithgow.
- Edgar Crawford was killed at a Portland race-meeting and buried in Portland.
Sunny Corner, 1890
- Lithgow-based jockey George Swan was killed in a preliminary prior to a race in which he was scheduled to ride at a Sunny Corner meeting. He was buried in Lithgow.
Mr Payne travelled the breadth and depth of Australia, talking to jockey clubs, going through old newspapers and if he had to, by contacting families to find as much information as he could.
Mr Payne's mission was like no other, having never been done before.
"It's all about honouring all of these unfortunate men and women in some detail, and I, and a lot of others sincerely believe that it has been long overdue," he said.
He said his reason for collating the book was that he was doing some research on another book he was contemplating to write on racing which involved some deceased riders.
"In following up the details of these riders, I noticed that there were a great many turning up that I hadn’t realised, had died.
"While at Caulfield racecourse one day, doing some research there, I was informed of a monument at the track, which depicted about 300 riders, and I noted that I had recorded many who were not included on the monument.
"I then determined to attempt to set the record straight after finding that nothing like this had ever been done before to honour, or pay homage, to all of those who had fallen," he said.
Mr Payne said he's taken the dictionary version of a “jockey” as “one who rode a horse in races” and included all of those who were or had been based in Australia, and who lost their lives in racing-related accidents, here or overseas.
His book contains 630 pages and was first published in October 2018 and so far proven popular with a high demand for print copies, according to Mr Payne.
"I have only recorded 10 overseas deaths, the remainder is all in the states and territories of Australia and while every story ends in death, there are many of major interest," Mr Payne said.
He also said the book was basically a reference type book set out in alphabetical order.
"I have recognised 945 jockeys to date and don’t profess to have them all, but am confident I have 99 per cent of them," he said.
Mr Payne said the long and short of it all was that he considered it a great insult to the fallen riders that their details had never been recorded for the history of racing.
"I believe, the circumstances of their demise, many of them at least, has significance to the history of Australia," he said.
- The book can only be purchased through Mr Payne's website Their Last Ride and is not available for purchase through book stores.
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Lithgow Mercury. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, sign up here.