Jockey Lorna Brooke dies after fall at Taunton racecourse early in April

The Guardian

Tony Paley

Tue 20 Apr 2021 

Leeds United Racecourses

Racecourses on Monday observed a minute’s silence and jockeys wore blackarmbands after the announcement that 37-year-old amateur rider LornaBrooke had died in hospital on Sunday following a fall from her mother’s horse at Taunton this month.

Brooke had been riding Orchestrated for owner-trainer Lady Susan Brooke when taking a heavy fall at the third fence in a handicap chase on 8 April.

Brooke’s injuries resulted in racing being delayed by more than hour as she was treated on track, before being transferred into an air ambulance.

The jockey was subsequently treated for a suspected spinal injury, but following complications had been placed in an induced coma from which she never emerged.

The Injured Jockeys Fund, which issued the statement, said: “Her family thank everyone for their kindness in the last few weeks, particularly the staff at Southmead Hospital who were so professional. They will be having a private funeral and will hold a celebration of Lorna’s life once Covid restrictions allow.”

The last jockey to die on a British racecourse as a result of a fall was Tom Halliday at Market Rasen in July 2005. It had been nearly a decade before that that Richard Davis lost his life at Southwell in 1996, while Philip Barnard was killed at Wincanton in 1991 and Vivian Kennedy at Huntingdon in 1988.

Brooke had ridden in more than 400 races, mostly for her mother, who was based in Llandrindod Wells, since she started riding in public and had partnered 17 winners in Britain and Ireland since the 2001-02 season.

She enjoyed her highest-profile success in the inaugural Ladies Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse on Moonlone Lane for Paul Stafford in 2015. A 25-1 chance, Moonlone Lane had failed to win in a 26-race career up to that point, but Brooke guided him home in front, with prominent female riders Katie Walsh, Lizzie Kelly, Rachael Blackmore and Nina Carberry all finishing in her wake.

“It’s tragic news, it really is shocking,” Stafford told Sky Sports Racing.

“When she got the fall people were very concerned, we were too and we were saying prayers, but unfortunately this has happened. She was a lovely person, obviously she rode that winner for us and we kept in contact over the years through social media, congratulating each other on social media when each of us had winners. It’s shocking it’s happened.”

Thinking back to the day at Fairyhouse, Stafford added: “He’d never won a race until she rode him that day, she took the bull by the horns, went on and it paid off – she gave him a fantastic ride. I’d never met Lorna before that, she was more or less allocated the ride, but I knew she was a capable rider. Itworked out and she rode him several times again, winning at Musselburgh.

“She was over the moon that day at Fairyhouse, and her family. I met her mother at Bangor one day and she’s lovely too. I send my condolences to her family, my heart goes out to them.”

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