Jockey, racing car driver die in Australian accidents

BENALLA, Australia, Reuters

A 19-year-old apprentice jockey and a racing car driver, 29, died on Sunday in separate accidents in Australia. The driver, whose name has not been released, died after crashing at high speed into a wall at the Eastern Creek Raceway, in Sydney’s west, Australian police said. The man’s car burst into flames on impact, an ambulance spokeswoman said. “He had multiple traumatic injuries and burns and he was in cardiac arrest at the scene,” she said. “He was being artificially kept alive en route to hospital.” Police said the man, from Windsor on Queensland state, was participating in a speed trial demonstration at a scheduled meeting of the Australian Racing Drivers’ Club. “He braked heavily, before crashing through a barricade and into a concrete wall,” police said in a statement. “Before assistance could be provided to the man, the vehicle burst into flames and was incinerated.” The jockey, Andrew Gilbert of Somerville in Victoria, died after falling from his horse during a race in the country town of Benalla in Victoria state, Australian police said. “Details are sketchy, but it appears that he died while ambulance members were attempting to revive him,” police said in a statement. “Police attended and will conduct an inquiry for the coroner.” A Benalla Racing Club spokesman was not immediately available for comment. Australian Associated Press reported the meeting was called off following the accident, but the course was still busy as punters bet on other race meetings around the nation. Gilbert was apprenticed to Melbourne trainer Len Treloar.

“He had had 20 or 25 rides and although he had only ridden one winner he was the type of young apprentice who was still learning his trade and had quite a lot of ability,” Treloar said. “He was a very likeable and loveable young lad.” According to a report on the race prepared by stewards, Gilbert’s mount El Banko was 900 metres from completion of the 1400m maiden plate when the gelding “shifted in and struck a running rail and then fell, dislodging (the rider)”. Jockeys wore black armbands at a meeting at Flemington, which hosts the Melbourne Cup race each November, as a mark of respect. Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Damien Oliver said it was a reminder of the risks of horse racing. “Something like this puts things in perspective,” Oliver said. Trainer Colin Alderson said: “It (his death) is just one of those things that happens in racing and it’s devastating.”