Stewards conclude inquiry into fatal Warialda race fall

RACING NSW stewards have concluded an inquiry into the 1000m McGregor Gourley-Labe Sutton Farrier Warialda Sprint at Warialda Jockey Club on Saturday, 8 April.

The inquiry was held in Tamworth racecourse stewards’ room last Wednesday, November 29.

Stewards: Shane A Cullen (Chairman), Jack Penfold, Marc F Van Gestel

Present: Geoff Snowden (Blaze Heart), Belinda Hodder, (A Tissue A Tissue), Apprentice Melanie Bolwell (True Commitment), Kirk Matheson (Dabamirak), Vadym Bolozhinshky (Royal Valorem), Leanne Henry (Achanizo); Sue Grills (Master of Melanie Bolwell)

Stewards conducted an inquiry into an incident approaching the 400m, in Race 3 at Warialda on April 8, 2017 which resulted in Darren Jones being fatally injured after being dislodged from Montague Clan.

Evidence was taken from Geoffrey Snowden, Belinda Hodder, Melanie Bolwell, Kirk Matheson, Vadym Bolozhinskyi and Leanne Henry. On the evidence, which included replay of all official Stewards patrol films, it was determined:

       1. That for some distance approaching the 450m, Montague Clan was racing very keenly in a position behind and almost to the outside of A Tissue A tissue, which was racing inside Dabamirak.

  1. During this time Montague Clan was being continually restrained and near the 450m it shifted in across the heels of A Tissue A Tissue, then shortly after, whilst still being restrained and racing with its head up shifted out slightly and struck the heels of A Tissue A Tissue, became unbalanced, blundered badly and resulting in Darren Jones being dislodged.
  2. True Commitment which was following, was unable to avoid the stricken Montague Clan and fell in consequence.
  3. Blaze Heart which was following True Commitment had to be severely checked.
  4. Royal Valorem was hampered and forced wider.
  5. Achinizo which was racing at the rear of the field had to be severely checked, became very unbalanced which resulted in L Henry being dislodged.
  6. It was determined that there was no rider error apparent and the incident was caused by the manner in which Montague Clan was racing at that time.
  7. A veterinary examination of Montague Clan found that the gelding sustained a fractured off side scapula due to the incident and there was no evidence of any pre-existing condition, which may have contributed to the incident. Montague Clan was humanely euthanaised.
  8. True Commitment suffered a fractured near fore leg in this incident and was humanely euthanaised.
  9. Prior to conducting Race 4, stewards with a deputation of senior riders, inspected the section of the track, from the 600m to the 400m and deemed the track to be in satisfactory racing condition.
  10. It was determined by Stewards that there was no issue with the track that may have contributed to the incident.

    Champion bush rider Darren Jones was tragically killed in a race fall at Warialda earlier this year (Image: Bill Poulos).

Shortly after this it became known that Darren Jones had been pronounced deceased and the remainder of the meeting was abandoned.