The racing community has been left stunned by the death of apprentice jockey Mikaela Claridge during routine trackwork at Cranbourne.
The 22-year-old, who was married in April, died from undisclosed injuries she suffered when she fell from her horse on Friday morning.
Victorian Jockeys Association president Matt Hyland said it was too soon to speculate on the cause of the fall which happened on the sand trails at Cranbourne shortly after 4.30am.
“Mikaela was an extremely popular girl and she was embarking on what was going to be a successful career, and she was just finding her feet and getting going,” Hyland said.
“It’s just an incredibly sad day.
“As we’re aware it was a track accident this morning at Cranbourne and the details of that are yet to play out.
“Obviously it’s a WorkSafe situation at the minute and that will all play out over the next week.”
Hyland said Racing Victoria and the VJA had been in contact with many participants to offer counselling and support.
“There is a lot of people with a heavy heart today in our community of jockeys, not just in Victoria but it stretches far and wide,” he said.
“We’ll provide whatever assistance we can.
“I guess all we can do is rally around people. Rally around all the participants that we are aware of that may be struggling and I’d just urge them to certainly contact Racing Victoria, and contact our association and we’ll offer whatever assistance we can.”
Claridge began her apprenticeship in 2015 and was based in country Victoria.
After injury interrupted her career, Claridge returned to riding in 2018 and won her first race in September last year.
She had transferred her indentures to trainer Ken Keys at Cranbourne and won another 28 races, most recently at Sale on July 11.
Officials called off Friday’s Pakenham race meeting after the incident.
“In consultation this morning between Racing Victoria and the VJA it was determined that the best thing for the day was to not race at Pakenham. Give the industry a bit of a chance to take a breath and absorb what had happened,” RV chief executive Giles Thompson said.
“We will be resuming racing tomorrow.
“It gives the industry a chance to come together, the community to come together.
“And also we’ll be providing any support participants need at the tracks tomorrow and ensure we get through the day tomorrow as best we can.”