The Australian racing community is mourning the deaths of two young jockeys in two days, while prominent racing figures call for improved safety standards.
Queensland rider Carly-Mae Pye, 26, died on Tuesday from injuries she suffered in a trackwork fall a day earlier.
South Australian apprentice Caitlin Forrest, 19, died in hospital in the early hours of Thursday morning after a four-horse fall at Murray Bridge on Wednesday.
Forrest’s boyfriend, fellow jockey Scott Westover, said it was the worst day of his life.
“I lost the love off my life,” Westover said on his Facebook page.
“I’ll miss her sleeping talking and her rolling over to say she loves me every night.
“I know there will be an angel up there watching me everyday and riding with me.”
Several high-profile figures are calling for a tougher industry response to safety concerns.
Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Chris Munce has questioned the high number of fatalities on Australian racecourses.
“Is it our style of riding? Shape of our tracks (tightness),” he tweeted.
Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman said it was time for drastic change in the sport, regardless of cost.
He said field sizes should be reduced and all horses strictly vet checked.
“Penalties have to be far stiffer for severe interference,” he said on Melbourne radio station RSN.
“We have to turn this industry on its head (or) parents won’t want their children to become apprentices.”
Freedman said wealthy breeders, race clubs, government and corporate bookmakers all shared the responsibility to stamp out the issue.
But Australian Racing Board chief executive Peter McGauran believes tracks have never been safer.
He said despite major advances like plastic running rails and better cambers, there are still catastrophic injuries and loss of life.
“With 500 to 600 kilogram horses going that fast, the jockeys are always at risk,” McGauran told Sydney’s Sky Sports Radio.
He said there are work safety investigations, coroner’s inquiries, horse autopsies and stewards reports underway for both accidents.
“We certainly owe it to these two young women to leave no stone unturned … to find out if there are any systemic lessons to be learned,” he said.