Victorian Jockeys Set For Showdown Over Safety Vests

Victorian jockeys are set for a showdown with the Australian Racing Board over highly contentious use of safety vests.

Chief Executive of the Victorian Jockeys’ Association Des O’Keeffe confirmed that he would be meeting with Andrew Harding of the Australian Racing Board to discuss the vests.

Jockeys vests tend to weigh around 500g but riders get a 1kg claim to compensate for the vest. Problems have arisen in recent times because jockey’s have been altering the vests or not wearing them altogether.

What’s more, with the number of injuries resulting from falls recently, there are some jockeys questioning whether they actually work at all.

“A number of riders have expressed concerns about the number of back and neck injuries,” O’Keeffe said.

“They need assurances that the vests are not contributing to the injuries. They see Michelle Payne, Danny Brereton, Neville Wilson and Darren Gauci with serious neck and spine injuries. Yet Ray Murrihy says three riders in Sydney in the last six months have been saved injury because of the vest.

“It is time for a review. I am not aware of any studies since 2007. Who sets standards and are there other options are questions that need to be asked.”

Darren Gauci, who suffered a bad fall at Mornington in June said he had reservations about the vests effectiveness.

“I don’t have the figures, but there seem to be more neck and back injuries,” Gauci said.

“In my case it would have made no difference. It was the way I landed. I fell on my backside facing the opposite way to where I was going, like doing up my shoelaces.”

Gauci also confirmed that it would be at least three months until he found himself back in the saddle.

Former Group One winning jockey Alf Matthews has been an outspoken critic on the safety vests, asserting that they are too rigid to help a jockey’s body when they come off a horse.

“Who issued the standards? Who said jockeys had to have them. Where are the figures on falls?” Matthews asked.

“The vest is inappropriate. It has to be addressed urgently.”