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Predictors of race-day jockey falls in flat racing in Australia
  1. Peta Lee Hitchens1,
  2. Christopher Leigh Blizzard1,
  3. Graeme Jones1,
  4. Lesley Day2,
  5. James Fell3
  1. 1Menzies Research Institute, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia
  2. 2Accident Research Centre, Monash University, VIC, Australia
  3. 3School of Human Life Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, TAS, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Associate Professor Leigh Blizzard, Private Bag 23, Menzies Research Institute, Hobart, TAS 7001, Australia


Objectives Riding thoroughbred racehorses is a hazardous occupation. In this study, we investigated risk factors associated with falls by licensed thoroughbred racing jockeys participating in flat races conducted in Australia.

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 from August 2002 until July 2006. Incidence rate ratios (IRRs) were estimated using Poisson regression. Analyses were stratified by race grade (maiden, class, open/restricted).

Results In multivariable analyses, factors associated with falls were female sex of jockey (IRR 1.11; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.23), being an apprentice jockey (IRR 1.51; 95% CI 1.39 to 1.63), being an amateur jockey (IRR 1.44; 95% CI 1.11 to 1.86), drier tracks (p<0.001), younger horse age (p<0.001), shorter race distance (p<0.001), lower field size (p=0.013) and lower race grade (p<0.001). The IRRs for five factors associated with falls differed by category of race grade: those for apprentice jockey (interaction p=0.003), higher prize money (interaction p<0.001) and shorter race distance (interaction p=0.041) were greater in lower race grades, while those for fewer previous rides this meeting (interaction p=0.027) and drier track rating (interaction p=0.035) were greater in higher race grades. Female jockeys had a significantly higher incidence of falls when riding horses under 4 years of age in open and restricted races (interaction p=0.038), and the effects of lower field size in maiden races, and of shorter races, were more pronounced for falls occurring before the race.

Conclusions We identified a range of factors associated with falls to thoroughbred racing jockeys riding in flat races that adds to the evidence base for formulating strategies to improve occupational health and safety standards in the thoroughbred racing industry.

  • Epidemiology
  • incidence
  • injury
  • jockey
  • horse
  • health and safety
  • animal workers

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  • Competing interests None.

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