The local community is holding the inaugural National Jockeys Trust Raceday at Bunbury on Thursday 12 February, with 100% of funds raised going to the Jockeys Trust. All thanks to Bunbury horse trainer Rob Witten, and passionate local businessman Mike Fagan.
Jockey Kate Witten’s ACL injury in February 2014, a result of a track fall at Bunbury, was the driving force behind the fundraising race day. Kate wasn’t the only Western Australian rider injured last year. Ryan Hill was air lifted to hospital suffering fractured ribs, vertebrae and collapsed lung keeping him out for 5-months.
A total of nineteen jockeys were sidelined due to injury as a result of their chosen occupation. These riders include Paul Harvey, Chris Parnham, Stephen Parnham, Clint Harvey, Colin Haddon, Glen Smith, Shaun Meeres, Jerry Noske, Robert Markou, Peter Hall, Natasha Faithfull, Peter Farrell, Renee Forrest, Kate Fitzgerald, Lucas Camilleri, Jake Casey and Jordon Turner.
“My daughter was injured and spent 11-months on the sidelines which opened my eyes to the other side of racing and the need for people to put their hand up to assist and support this good cause” – Rob Witten, local horse trainer/raceday organiser.
“We have been looking for an avenue to raise money for the Jockeys Trust and this presented as a perfect opportunity. We want to make this an annual event to raise funds for those jockeys who sadly end up in necessitous circumstances.” – said Mike Fagan of Bunbury Holden.
Mike has received a fantastic response to the race sponsorships with Thoroughbred Breeders WA, Magic Millions, WA Racehorse Owners Association, Parnham Racing Stables, McMahon Burnett Transport, Statewide Oils and the WA Jockeys Association all supporting the event.
Bunbury raceday patrons and the local community are invited to the Big Top following the last race at 5.45pm, to mingle with leading riders and the racing fraternity. There will be a sausage sizzle, cash bar, raffle and auction items all to support the cause, in a fun and relaxed environment. The meeting is a 9-race card commencing at 1.10pm.
Leading WA trainer Neville Parnham, and his wife Carolyn are a family steeped in racing history on both sides of the pedigree. Their three sons, Stephen (29), Bradley (26) and Chris (17) are all jockeys. Each of their boys have suffered injuries from race falls, and extended time out of the saddle as a result. Stephen in particular has broken everything from his collarbone, nose, cheekbones, wrist, ribs, foot, vertebrae and suffered severe concussion. Despite these extensive injuries, he is considered very lucky.
The Parnham family understands the importance of supporting injured jockeys, and are right behind the cause. “Coming from a racing background we understand the risks involved, we know injuries occur from time to time. Your heart is in your mouth at the time until you know your boy is ok. Our sons love the game and it is what they chose to do and we support them in their chosen profession,” – Neville Parnham, Parnham Racing Stables.
It is timely that the jockey who inspired the event, Kate Witten, has shown how tough and resilient jockeys can be having the most successful week of her career, on aptly named horses. Kate booted home Be So Ryski in the feature $60K MGIB Plate at Bunbury on Friday, then rode Sheidel to victory for David Harrison at Ascot, her first Saturday metropolitan winner.