Simone Montgomerie Dies After Darwin Race Fall
Darwin based jockey Simone Montgomerie, a mother of a four-year-old daughter, has died from traumatic injuries suffered in a race fall at the Darwin Cup meeting at Fannie Bay.
The fatal incident occurred 100m from the finish of the Lightning Plate when her mount Riahgrand shied sideways and dislodged the jockey. Following horses galloped over the stricken jockey.
Montgomerie was treated on the track by paramedics before she was rushed to hospital in a critical condition.
The 26-year-old mother of two was unable to be stabilised and passed away in Royal Darwin Hospital from traumatic injuries.
The fall upset fellow riders and their grave distress resulted in the abandonment of the final three races on the program including the $200,000 Darwin Cup.
Montgomerie, whose father Peter Montgomerie trained the 2005 Melbourne Cup runner-up On A Jeune, was indentured to South Australian trainer David Jolly in the early days of her apprenticeship.
She moved to Darwin in November 2009 and last season rode 27 winners at Fannie Bay to be crowned Darwin's premier jockey, becoming the first female to achieve the feat.
Many of the jockeys riding at the meeting were upset by the accident and advised stewards that they did not want to continue riding in the remaining races including the Darwin Cup due to their distressed state of mind.
Stewards and officials of the Darwin Turf Club agreed that that many of the riders were too disturbed by the race fall to continue riding, realising there was the possibility they would endanger other riders should they take mounts in the remaining races.
"We've spoken to the riders and some are quite concerned and quite upset so we've taken the view that the number one priority is safety and the well being of the riding group and we've elected to abandon the meeting," said chief steward Lindsay Lane.
The jockeys did not complain about the condition of the track although it was suggested Rhiagrand had shied away from the huge crowd lining the inside of the Fannie Bay track.
The remaining races were abandoned before news of Montgomerie's death reached the racecourse.
Darwin Turf Club president Brett Dixon said stewards had begun an investigation into the circumstances of the accident.
"As far as the Darwin Turf Club is concerned, she was our family, and we're all devastated by this accident," Dixon said.
A crowd of 20,000 on course for the running of the Darwin Cup, the biggest sporting event of the year in the Northern Territory, were left stunned by the tragedy while racing identities from around Australia were quick to offer their sympathies to the Montgomerie family.
Champion Sydney jockey Nash Rawiller was riding at Fannie Bay and tweeted: "I've never left a racecourse feeling so sad and numb! Great jockey and beautiful young lady. Thinking of her family and close friends."
Hall of fame trainer Lee Freedman said words couldn't express his distress at the news of her death.
"They face such danger. Everyone in racing feels this pain," he tweeted.
Melbourne Cup winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy was a close friend of SImone and her family from their early years when they rode together as pony club members.
"It's a cruel game at times. Rest in peace Simone. Thoughts go out to the big Mont family. Our pony club days I'll remember forever," he wrote.
National Jockeys' Association general manager Des O'Keeffe said the organisation will support the Montgomerie family.
"It is unbelievable that this has happened just two days after National Jockeys Celebration day around the country. I have had many jockeys ring me and they are absolutely shattered," O'Keefe said.
National Jockeys Celebration day was held on Saturday in aid of the National Jockeys Trust which provides support for families of jockeys killed or injured in race falls.
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