John Payne
John Payne

LAST RIDE: Our fallen jockeys

THE memorial to fallen jockeys at Grafton could include two more names says the author of a book detailing the 938 riders who have given their lives to the sport.

Author of Their Last Ride, John Payne, was delighted to hear Grafton had remembered Athol Connor (1975), Peter Schumacher (1976) and Daniel Baker (2007) but said his exhaustive research had uncovered a couple of riding deaths from early last century.

"Jim Jordan, in 1904, and George Benson, also known as George Hall, 1902, died in racing accidents at Grafton,” he said.

He said it was reasonably common for names to have been left off lists of riders who had died for their sport.

"When I added up all the memorials to fallen riders at clubs and tracks around Australia I came up with 875 names,” he said.

"I was able to come up with 938 for my book, so there's been more than 50 people missed out, which is a real tragedy for the families of those riders.”

Mr Payne said the book was the result of eight years of painstaking research digging into club records, newspapers and family records.

"The main thing that drove me was this has never been done before,” he said.

"These people gave their lives to racing and they deserve to be remembered.”

The careers of three riders killed in race-day falls at Grafton were recalled with the unveiling of three plaques at the 2017 July Carnival.

The families of the jockeys - Athol Connor (1975), Peter Schumacher (1976) and Daniel Baker (2007) - were at the Clarence River Jockey Club for the unveiling.

At the time, CRJC chief executive officer Michael Beattie said he was working on the track in the 70s when two of the fatalities occurred.

"It's something that never leaves you,” he said. "The club thought it was time for a small memento to be made so the sacrifices of those three gentlemen were not forgotten.”

You can purchase Their Last Ride online at .html

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