Thirteen years of the National Jockeys’ Trust has been anything but unlucky for the hundreds of riders and riders’ families assisted by the fund.
The annual jockeys’ celebration day has again focused on the role riders play in the industry and the sacrifices they and their families make.
The NJT’s white and orange colours were front and centre at Flemington with the topweights Azazel and Hell or Highwater winning the first two races.
Saturday also marked the final time Fr Peter Gillam, Brisbane’s racing chaplain for four decades, gave the official blessing at Doomben.
The Catholic parish priest at Hendra, in Brisbane’s central racing district, retired in 2011 but has until Saturday maintained his association with racing as chaplain.
“I have always had a close association with racing and it is important we honour our jockeys,” he said.
“It is time for someone younger to take over but I will still maintain an interest in racing.”
Following a minute’s silence and track blessing at Randwick, NJT chairman Paul Innes explained the charity’s focus extended well beyond current riders.
“A lot of riders over the years have fallen through the cracks and have missed out on the support they should have been getting,” Innes told AAP.
“People contact us and say Joe Blow lives in my street and he was a jockey in 1960s, he’s in a bad way.
“We find out and we help.”
Since its creation in 2004, the NJT has paid out $3.5 million to more than 300 riders and their families by covering circumstances WorkCover didn’t or couldn’t.
NJT projects have included modifying kitchens, bathrooms and cars for those in wheelchairs and supplementing sick-leave entitlements for current riders.
“It’s a broad spectrum of support,” Innes said
“Depending on the success of a rider, many don’t get all that much support through WorkCover so it can help cover the gap,” he said.
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