A FEMALE jockey aged just 18 is fighting for her life in hospital after suffering a sickening fall from a horse.
The racing community in Australia has gathered round Hannah Fitzgerald, whose awful incident came just days before the Melbourne Cup.
The apprentice jockey, who has been placed in an induced coma and has a bleed on the brain, was thrown from her mount, Neurologic, after finishing fourth in a race at Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, on Saturday night.
Hannah was unconscious for some time before being rushed to Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital before then being flown by air ambulance to Royal Perth Hospital.
The final race of the night was abandoned after the terrible incident.
Hannah had not long returned to racing after a car crash in January left her with ‘severe whiplash’ and forced her out of the sport for four months.
Her devastated boss, trainer Brett Pope, said: “She was starting to ride some winners and then had a car crash.
“She was out of action for four months. She had severe whiplash and it took a long time to get better.
“She was just starting to get into some good form again and then this happens.
“The doctors were pretty concerned on Saturday night but it looks like it’s stabilised.
“The trauma to her head is what they’re worried about, the rest of her body is OK.”
Hannah has ridden 31 winners since making her debut in June last year, four months before she was named Trainee of the Year at the Apprentice Awards.
PARENTS BY HER SIDE
A statement from Racing and Wagering Western Australia said: “We are supporting the family of apprentice jockey Hannah Fitzgerald, who was involved in an incident at Kalgoorlie Racecourse on Saturday.
“Hannah was dislodged from her mount after the winning post in race six.
“She was taken to the Kalgoorlie Hospital, where she was later airlifted to Royal Perth Hospital.
“Hannah is currently in an induced coma and is in a stable condition.
“Our thoughts are with Hannah and her family during this difficult time. Hannah’s parents are with her and we will continue to provide support any way we can.
“The safety and wellbeing of our racing participants is our highest priority, and a thorough investigation into the incident is underway.
JOCKEY WITH BRIGHT FUTURE
“We would like to extend our appreciation to those people on-course who assisted Hannah.
“We will continue to provide updates on Hannah’s condition where possible.”
While the The WA Jockeys’ Association said: “Sending all our support and love to apprentice Hannah Fitzgerald after a nasty fall at Kalgoorlie.
“Hannah has been flown to Perth for treatment. We are all behind you Hannah.
“Thoughts are with family and friends.”