GV jockeys recalled in John H Payne book

By John Lewis

Goulburn Valley jockeys and racecourses are included in a book published late last year which uncovers for the first time the tragic stories of every Australian jockey who has died riding a racehorse.

Their Last Ride — the Fallen Jockeys of Australia details the compelling stories of all 938 jockeys who have died from 1853 up until 2018 while racing or training in Australia.

Among the long list of fallen riders, the 630-page book includes the tragic stories of 10 deaths related to Goulburn Valley riders or courses.

They date from the death of James Gilbert Dyer in 1885 at Gunbower, to retired jockey Brigid Payne who died six months after falling from a horse at David Hayes’ training facilities at Euroa in 2006.

Brigid was a sister to Melbourne Cup winning rider, Michelle Payne.

Queensland author John Payne said the book’s purpose was to reflect on the fallen jockeys as individuals, and to honour them for the ultimate sacrifice each has made.

‘‘It is something never previously done, and, in my humble opinion, an honour each of them well deserve, and is long overdue,’’ Payne said.

He said the idea came to him eight years ago while he was visiting Caulfield and came across the National Jockeys Trust memorial and noticed many missing names.

He said he pledged to do what justice he could to the fallen, and to write a comprehensive testimony to honour all of the riders killed in horse-racing activities.

He spent the next eight years going through local newspapers, documents and online sources such as website checking races, names and funeral records.

The book recounts the early days of racing in Australia when 165 jockeys had been killed in racing-related accidents before the start of the 20th century.

Payne says that ‘‘racing in this period, and for some years later, was conducted by virtually anybody ... with rough tracks laid out behind hotels and/or on private land, with no outside fencing, and little inside running rails, no ambulance or medical staff, no casualty rooms and often miles from any sort of hospital’’.

He says ‘‘... much racing was done in those days over hurdles and steeples, of solid construction and, in many cases, quite severe, with track surfaces varying greatly in quality.

‘‘Children as young as 11 or 12 years were riding in races, with younger aged children engaged in riding trackwork, and very little official supervision was afforded to participants,’’ he says.

Payne recounts an instance where two brothers, John and Reece Jenkins were killed in the one racing accident at Hopetoun on New Year’s Day 1892, and another brother, James (Mick), was subsequently killed in a fall at the races at Sandown, the following July.

The youngest to die was eight-year-old George Green, who was killed when he fell from a horse during a walking exercise at Glenelg stables in March 1883.

The youngest killed in a race fall was Isaac Marshall three days short of his 11th birthday. Young Isaac died on the second day of a racing carnival at Kingsgate, NSW in May 1914.

Their Last Ride — the Fallen Jockeys of Australia is available for $49.95 from

Stories from the Goulburn Valley

James Gilbert Dyer

1885 at Gunbower

Formerly of Shepparton, Dyer died at Gunbower on January 30 1885 on board Miss Temora, one of four runners in a hurdle race. The horse fell at the third obstacle with Dyer sustaining concussion and internal injuries. He died a few days later in Echuca Hospital and is buried in the Echuca cemetery.

Richard Albert (Bertie) Peardon.

Died in 1893 at Tatura

Peardon, 17, from Stawell, died at the annual St Patrick’s Day meeting at Tatura on March 17, 1893.

Peardon was riding Irrigator for Martin Cousens in race five in the Baldswinville Handicap when he was flung from the saddle as his mount struck a post rounding the home turn.

Peardon was removed to Walsh’s Hotel, where he died on the morning of Monday, March 20.

William Olds

1893 at Murchison

William Olds’ mount Prospect fell during the hurdle race at the Dargalong and Murchison race meeting on April 1, 1893.

Olds suffered a fractured skull and died a few minutes afterwards.

He was once a well-known Melbourne rider, riding the winner of the Newmarket Handicap in 1886 aboard William Tell, and winning the Oakleigh Plate and Standish Handicap with the same horse.

George Ronald Graham

1903 at Katamatite

George Graham, 19, a step-son of Mrs L E Graham of the Goulburn Valley Hotel, Shepparton was injured while exercising the colt Colonel French, at Katamatite on Monday, March 2 1903.

Graham was dragged with a leg caught in a stirrup, for some distance. A doctor was sent for, but on his arrival, Graham was already dead. After his funeral on Wednesday March 4, he was interred at Shepparton Cemetery.

George Lane

1905 at Mooroopna

Euroa Hotel worker George Lane rode his own horse Romantic in the 1000m Consolation Stakes at Mooroopna on Wednesday, April 12 1905, when the horse fell.

Lane sustained a broken shoulder and collarbone and some broken ribs in the fall. The horse was euthanased after breaking its leg.

Lane received medical attention when it was found his broken ribs had punctured a lung — he died within 20 minutes.

Lane was described as a straight-going, conscientious single young man from Tallarook. He was not a trained rider.

William George Hughes

1909 at Muckatah

At the Muckatah races on Saturday, February 6 1909 William Hughes, 19, of Shepparton was riding Honest Girl in the Muckatah Handicap when she missed the start after turning around behind the barrier.

Following in the dust kicked up by the main bunch of horses, Honest Girl struck a post, throwing Hughes onto his head, breaking his neck, killing him almost instantly.

Hughes was reportedly one of the best amateur jockeys in the north-west districts and a son of Mrs Martha Hughes (nee Bastow).

He was buried at Katamatite cemetery near the residence of his uncle, Mr Tom Hughes.

A cheque covering the expenses of the funeral was handed to the lad’s uncle by Mr L Mulcahy, acting on behalf of the sporting public who had made contributions.

John McKinnon

1909 at Shepparton

Amateur jockey John McKinnon, 45, from Moama was riding The Dodger, a horse trained by himself and owned in partnership with his brother, Donald, in the Hurdle Race, of five starters at the Crumlin Estate racecourse at the Shepparton District Racing Club meeting, on Wednesday, March 10, 1909 in very dusty conditions.

He was thrown heavily when the horse, running second , breasted the first hurdle, falling onto the jockey.

McKinnon suffered internal bleeding and died within 20 minutes.

He was buried at Shepparton Cemetery on Thursday, March 11.

A collection on the course to help defray funeral costs, raised 19 pounds ($38).

Thomas J (Tommy) Coyle

1912 at Tatura

Coyle fractured his skull when his mount Surefire fell over the fallen Miss Hamling in the opening race at Tatura on Friday, April 19, 1912.

The injured rider was removed from the course to Mrs Bolger’s private hospital, and died there the following Friday without regaining consciousness.

Coyle was born at Captains Flat near Queanbeyan, but with both parents deceased and no relatives able to be located, he was buried at Tatura Cemetery on Saturday, April 20, 1912.

Mark Robert (Welby) Goring

2003 at Shepparton.

Cranbourne-based jockey Mark Goring, just five days short of his 23rd birthday, was fatally injured when his mount, Starbond, was involved in a three-horse pile-up about 900m from the finish in the Shepparton Maiden Plate, race three at the Tatura races on Sunday, January 12, 2003.

Flown to the trauma centre at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne, the well-respected Goring who had ridden 140 winners in his six-year riding career, died there the following day. Fellow jockeys Mick Johnstone and Jamie Anstice, rider of Rapallo, suffered minor injuries in the pile-up.

Brigid Payne

2007, Euroa

Brigid Payne, 36, suffered serious head injuries when she fell while training a young horse at the David Hayes training facilities at Euroa in June 2006.

Following the incident she was placed in an induced coma for 12 hours.

After seemingly recovering, Payne returned to work on light duties at Euroa six months later, but after just three days she suffered a seizure and was again hospitalised.

On being discharged, while driving to her Ballarat home with her 14-year-old son, she suffered a heart attack from which she never recovered, with doctors afterwards stating that her death was related to her earlier injury.

Brigid was a daughter of Ballarat trainer and former jockey, Patrick Payne, and eldest of 10 children, of whom eight became jockeys.

She was licensed as a jockey in 1985 and, by the time of her retirement as a racing rider she had ridden 41 winners. She went on to work as a trackwork rider at the Hayes stables.