Objectives: To describe rates of occurrence of falls, injuries and fatalities to horse-racing jockeys in Australia.
Design and setting: Retrospective analysis of data on race-day falls from stewards' reports provided by the Principal Racing Authority of each state and territory of Australia, August 2002 - July 2006.
Main outcome measures: Fall, injury and fatality incidence rates; comparison with overseas rates.
Results: There were 3360 jockey falls from 748 367 rides. Falls occurred at a rate of 0.42 per 100 rides in flat races and 5.26 per 100 rides in jumps races. In flat racing, 54.6% (1694/3101) of falls occurred before the start of the race and 11.1% (344/3101) of falls occurred post-race. The 34.3% (1063/3101) of falls that occurred during flat races resulted in 61.7% (516/836) of the injuries sustained. In jumps racing, most falls occurred at a jump and 9.7% (25/259) of jockeys who fell were transported to hospital and/or declared unfit to ride. There were five fatalities resulting from falls during the study period, all in flat racing. Fall and injury rates were comparable with those found in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Japan.
Conclusions: Being a jockey carries a substantial risk of injury and death. Although rates of injury in Australia are not exceptional by international standards, there can be improvement to safety standards in the Australian racing industry.