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The association between jockey experience and race-day falls in flat racing in Australia
  1. Peta L Hitchens1,
  2. C Leigh Blizzard1,
  3. Graeme Jones1,
  4. Lesley M Day2,
  5. James Fell3
  1. 1Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  2. 2Monash Injury Research Institute, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3School of Human Life Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Peta Lee Hitchens, Private Bag 23, Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia; petaleeh{at}


Objectives Apprentice thoroughbred racing jockeys have a higher fall rate than their more experienced counterparts. The authors describe rates of occurrence and investigate risk factors for falls among less-experienced thoroughbred flat racing jockeys in Australia who commenced their race riding career between August 2002 and July 2009.

Methods Data on race-day falls were extracted from stewards' reports. Denominator data were provided by Racing Information Services Australia on races conducted in Australia. HRs were estimated using time-to-event (survival analysis) methods.

Results Factors found to be associated with falls by less-experienced jockeys (as indicated by number of career rides or career stage) were older jockey age at commencement of career (p=0.001), fewer previous rides this meeting (p<0.001), fewer previous starts by the horse (p<0.001), younger horse age (p<0.001), lower race grade (p<0.001), lower prize money (p<0.001), shorter race distance (p<0.001) and drier track rating (p<0.001). Apprentice experience was inversely and strongly associated with increased rates of falls (p<0.001). Three indicators of less accomplished horses (lower race grade, fewer previous starts by the horse and less prize money at stake) and two race conditions (drier tracks and shorter race distance) were found to be associated with a progressively higher hazard of falls for less-experienced jockeys.

Conclusions This study identified factors that preferentially contribute to falls by inexperienced jockeys. The authors suggest that consideration be given to restricting apprentice jockeys with little race-riding experience from riding horses that have not yet won a race (maiden) or that have had few previous race starts.

  • Epidemiology
  • incidence
  • injury
  • jockey
  • horse
  • fall
  • occupational injury
  • recreation/sports
  • risk factor research
  • older people
  • implementation/translation
  • policy analysis
  • alcohol
  • traffic
  • MVTC

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The Human Research Ethics Committee (Tasmania) waived the need for ethics approval of these analyses of publicly available information.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.