Tragedy struck the Northern Territory racing community on Monday afternoon when the death of female hoop Simone Montgomerie forced the abandonment of the Darwin Cup 2013.
Ms Montgomerie was involved in a fatal race fall in the sixth race at the coveted Fannie Bay meeting when thrown from her mount, the Gary Clarke-trained Riahgrand, with only 180m left to travel in the $35,000 Wolf Blass Lightning Plate (1000m).
Sadly the 26-year-old mother of two was subsequently trampled upon by a series of other horses in the race and despite being treated by two doctors at the scene later died moments after arriving at Royal Darwin Hospital.
“Simone was a champion jockey at the top of her game and a pioneer of women in racing who will be sorely missed,” NT Chief Minister Adam Giles said in a statement yesterday.
Her mother Lee-Anne Montgomerie was owner of the horse, Dreaming Of Nepal, that went on to win the race in which her daughter was killed.
The three remaining races on the Darwin Cup Day program were cancelled after the heartbreaking event including the top end’s premier race, the $200,000 Carlton Mid Darwin Cup (2000m).
Everyone at the meeting was in shock including champion Sydney hoop Nash Rawiller.
Rawiller was there to partner with the David Hayes-trained veteran Extra Zero in the Darwin Cup and left the course saying on Twitter he’d never finished a day’s racing feeling so sad.
“I’ve never left a racecourse feeling so sad and numb!” Rawiller tweeted.
“Great jockey and beautiful young lady. Thinking of her family and close friends.”
Also extending his condolences on Twitter was Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman.
“They face such danger. Everyone in racing feels this pain,” he wrote on his account.
Montgomerie came from a family of devoted racing enthusiasts.
Her father, Peter Montgomerie, was in fact the trainer of 2005 Melbourne Cup runner-up On A Jeune who also won that year’s Geelong Cup with Kerrin McEvoy aboard.
“I’m shattered by the news,” The Herald Sun reported McEvoy as saying.
“I know Simone really well, we actually did pony club together. My condolences go to the Montgomerie family. She’s a beautiful girl, it’s just a tragedy.”
She started her career as an apprentice in South Australia with David Jolly who was also hit hard by the news of her death.
“The news has really hit home hard. The racing fraternity will stay strong and support!” he tweeted.
Darwin Turf Club chairman Brett Dixon said at a press conference yesterday afternoon that a full investigation into the accident had already been launched.
“As far as the Darwin Turf Club is concerned, she was our family, and we’re all devastated by this accident,” he said.
Even more shattering was that Montgomerie’s death occurred just two days after the National Jockeys Celebration Day in Australia, a fact that didn’t go past the National Jockeys’ Association general manager Des O’Keefe.
“It is unbelievable that this has happened just two days after National Jockeys Celebration day around the country,” he said.
“I have had many jockeys ring me and they are absolutely shattered.
“We also have support for any jockeys who need it. We have counselling services they can ring.”
Stay tuned for more on whether the Darwin Cup will be rescheduled.