21 May 2014

Jockey's dad says death freak accident

8:49 pm on 21 May 2014

The father of a jockey killed on a North Otago racetrack says her inquest has shown it was a freak accident.

Ashlee Mundy died from head injuries after falling off her horse Elleaye at the Kurow course on 30 December 2012, shocking the racing community and triggering several investigations.

Lockey Mundy with jockeys Courtney Barnes, left, and Toni Direen.

Lockey Mundy with jockeys Courtney Barnes, left, and Toni Direen. Photo: RNZ / Ian Telfer

The inquest into the 26-year-old's death was held in Dunedin on Wednesday.

The court viewed videos of the race in slow-motion clearly showing Ms Mundy's horse tucking its front hooves under its body while in full stride and briefly collapsing. It survived the fall.

Evidence in the morning suggested that the horse collapsed unexpectedly for no obvious reason.

However, in the afternoon two race stewards said they were convinced that it clipped its hooves with another horse, stumbled and dumped Ms Mundy.

One steward, Mark Davidson, said he was astonished at what he saw and thought that Elleaye had died.

"When I saw it live on TV I was surprised at how quickly the horse actually dropped to the ground. My first reaction seeing it live was I thought the horse had died."

Mr Davidson said he had never seen a horse do what it did before.

Two other jockeys in the race, Toni Direen and Courtney Barnes, told the inquest that Ashlee Mundy was a good and well-regarded rider.

Outside court, Lockey Mundy said it showed that his daughter's death was an unavoidable accident in an industry prone to danger.

"Horses clip heels all the time - sometimes they go down, sometimes they don't. Horses clip heels sometimes and riders go down and get up and walk away. I think it was just the way she fell - it happened so quickly and the position of the body when she hit the ground."

Mr Mundy said Ashlee knew that racing horses had dangers, but she just loved doing it.

Otago Coroner David Crerar reserved his findings, but indicated that he cannot see much to recommend to stop another death.