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Racing NSW to assist Canberra participants

Sydney trainer Pat Webster will visit Canberra to offer support to friends and family of local track rider and picnic jockey Samara Johnson who died in a car accident in which her partner Garry Kirkup was seriously injured.

As well as being a successful trainer, Webster works as a drug and alcohol counsellor for Racing NSW and will go to the Canberra track on Wednesday as part of the Racing Mates program designed to support participants in need.

Webster said it was an opportunity for the local racing community, many of whom have been working overtime to ensure Kirkup’s stable remained operational, to get together to talk about what had happened.

“It’s most important for people to talk,” Webster said.

“I will be going with chaplain Brother Dan Stafford and hopefully we can be of some help but we just want to make sure people know we are there and available.”

Kirkup remains in Canberra Hospital after suffering abdominal, hand and foot injuries in the single car crash on December 3 in the NSW Riverina.

Johnson’s family was at Rosehill on Saturday where Kirkup’s stable star Highly Geared raced.

The mare, part-owned by Kirkup’s son Ben, was unplaced in the race in which she was ridden by apprentice Rachel Hunt who wore Samara’s name on her breeches.

The gathering for a breakfast barbecue at the Canberra racecourse will be at 9.30am on Wednesday.

The Canberra Racing Club will honour Johnson with a race in her name at its meeting on Sunday while the Macquarie Picnic Racing Club has renamed its main race at Trangie in western NSW on December 29.

The 1400m-race will be known as the Samara Johnson Memorial Macquarie Picnic Cup.

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