The racing community is struggling to come to terms with the death of two jockeys within 48 hours.
Melanie Tyndall, who died from injuries received in a fall in a race at Fannie Bay in Darwin on Saturday, has been remembered as a much-loved member of the tight-knit racing circle in the Northern Territory.
Her death came a day after 22-year-old apprentice Mikaela Claridge suffered fatal injuries during routine trackwork at Cranbourne in Victoria.
Tyndall was also a police officer and has been described as “loving, caring and professional” in that capacity.
NT Police commissioner Michael Murphy said “she was well regarded and very well respected by the community”.
Australian Jockeys Association chief executive Martin Talty said on Sunday the small NT racing community was reeling over the death of Tyndall.
“It is a sport that we all love, but sometimes it can be so cruel, and we’ve seen that in the last 24 to 48 hours,” Talty said.
He said there were systems in place to help the community deal with the tragic incident.
“We will offer every single entity of that support to every one that needs it here in the Northern Territory.”
Tyndall, 32, fell after her horse apparently clipped heels with another runner at the 300-metre mark of the race.
She was conscious when attended to by paramedics but died later in the Royal Darwin Hospital.
Darwin Turf Club chairman Brett Dixon recognised horse racing as a “high-risk” sport.
“We have people in the industry that are passionate about racing, they understand the risks involved,” he said.
“We, as administrators … work very hard in consultation with the industry to continue to lift the level of safety and standards at our race tracks …”
“But while there’s that passion there, people are going to continue to race.”
Tyndall, originally from Murray Bridge in South Australia, moved to Darwin in late 2012 to further her racing career with trainer Michael Hickmott.
Hickmott paid tribute to Tyndall on social media, saying “if people only knew the hurdles you conquered in your life to make what you did of yourself”.
“We were all so proud of what you achieved. You defied the odds,” he said on Saturday.
Dixon said Tyndall quickly became part of the “small racing family” in Darwin.
“She rode many winners right throughout the Territory,” he said.
Claridge had ridden 29 winners in her fledgling career which she had resumed last year after a back injury stalled her apprenticeship.
Married earlier this year, Claridge was indentured to Ken Keys at Cranbourne.
She and another rider were trotting horses on the sand trails at Cranbourne when it is believed something spooked the horses.
Both riders fell but while Claridge’s companion was immediately on her feet, the jockey had suffered catastrophic injuries and could not be revived.
Counselling services for all participants are available through the jockeys’ associations in each jurisdiction as well as the administrative bodies.