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Epidemiology of jockey falls in the thoroughbred racing industry in Australia, 2002/03 to 2008/09 racing seasons
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 05:54 authored by Hitchens, PL
Riding thoroughbred racehorses is a hazardous occupation. This thesis aimed to describe rates of occurrence of falls, injuries and fatalities to licensed jockeys in thoroughbred horse racing, and investigate risk factors associated with falls by jockeys participating in flat races (those without hurdles or fences) and jumps races (those in which the horse is required to jump hurdles or fences) conducted in Australia. Data on race-day falls were extracted from stipendiary stewards' reports provided by the Principal Racing Authority of each state and territory. Incidence rate ratios were estimated using Poisson regression, and hazard ratios were estimated using Cox proportional hazards regression. Falls occurred at a rate of 0.42 per 100 rides in flat racing and 5.26 per 100 rides in jumps racing. Fall and injury rates were comparable with those found in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Japan. In flat racing, the more severe injuries occurred during the race, but most falls occurred pre- or post-race. In jumps racing, most falls occurred at a jump, with 9.7% of falls resulting in a significant injury. Factors associated with falls in flat racing during race seasons 2002-03 through 2005-06 were female sex of jockey, being an apprentice jockey, being an amateur jockey, drier tracks, younger horse age, shorter race distance, smaller field size and lower race grade. Important predictors of falls in hurdle racing during race seasons 2002-03 through 2008-09 were higher club level, greater field size, greater prize money, provisionally licensed jockeys and older jockeys. Important predictors of falls for steeplechase racing were type of jump, provisionally licensed jockeys, jockeys having had previous rides at a meeting, and greater field size. For early-career jockeys who commenced their apprenticeship during race seasons 2002-03 through 2008-09, fall rates in flat racing were strongly and inversely associated with jockey experience and exacerbated by factors associated with lack of proficiency or inexperience of the horse. In a pilot study, data were obtained on physiological attributes of jockeys and track-work riders in Tasmania. Important factors found to be associated with falls were lower aerobic and anaerobic fitness, greater muscular strength and power, and riding with the full foot in the stirrup irons compared to riding on the ball of the foot. In conclusion, key factors associated with falls by and injuries to thoroughbred racing jockeys are horse and rider inexperience, which play a mutually reinforcing role, and competitive racing. The physiological attributes of jockeys may be important also. These findings provide the beginnings of an evidence base for formulating strategies to improve occupational health and safety standards in the Australian thoroughbred racing industry.
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