Racing company fined $350,000 after young rider's fatal fall

A horse training company has been convicted and fined $350,000 after an apprentice jockey was thrown from her horse and died during pre-dawn training at Cranbourne.


Saloon Park Pty Ltd, which trades as Ken Keys Racing, was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court today after being found guilty of one charge of failing to provide or maintain a system of work that was safe and without risks to health.

In August 2019, the 22-year-old apprentice jockey and a training partner were directed by their supervisor to ride horses on a bush trail in dark conditions.

At about 4.30am, both horses became spooked and stopped suddenly, causing the riders to fall. The young woman died at the scene.

A WorkSafe investigation found the trail included several features that could potentially spook a horse in the dark, such as overhanging trees, pooled water and wildlife on or near the trail.

The court heard that it was reasonably practicable for Saloon Park to have reduced the risk of death or serious injury by implementing measures to ensure that its jockeys did not ride horses on the bush track in dark conditions.

Trail operator, Cranbourne Turf Club Inc, was convicted and fined $250,000 in the Melbourne County Court in February in relation to the same matter for failing to reduce the health and safety risks by installing floodlights around the trail to ensure visibility outside daylight hours, or limiting access to the trail to daylight hours.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Narelle Beer said the death was a grim reminder of how dangerous it was to perform trail riding without adequate lighting.

"These riders should have never been allowed – let alone instructed – to ride in the dark," Dr Beer said.

"WorkSafe will continue to prosecute employers who fail in their duty to protect workers from the risk of injury and death."

To eliminate or control risks associated with track work, employers should:

  • Have policies, procedures and track rules in place and enforced, for example by having a track supervisor present at all training sessions.
  • Ensure signage displaying 'training track' information is highly visible and easy to understand.
  • Ensure track work is only performed where the track is in a safe and maintained condition and all entry points are either staffed if open, or secured if closed.
  • Have a system or process in place to determine appropriate track work activities, for example, a process to match horses with rider ability - in particular with apprentice riders.
  • Ensure track riding can only be performed in the dark (before dawn or after dusk) where there are adequate lighting systems in place.