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Young Kiwi jockey Megan Taylor dies after tragic fall during race at Ashburton

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Apprentice Kiwi jockey Megan Taylor, remembered as a “beautiful soul, loved by so many”, has been killed in a race fall at Ashburton today.

The 26-year-old was riding Red Orchid in the $14,000 maiden race when there was a four-horse fall entering the straight and a horse made contact with Taylor while she lay on the track.

She was pronounced dead soon after with jockeys pulled in by officials and told the tragic news.

The remainder of the meeting was abandoned.

A friend of Taylor, Alex Coleman, told the Herald, “I’m not sure anyone is going to be able to find the words to describe how tragic the loss of Megan is.

“She was such a beautiful soul that was loved by so many and the shock of her being taken so tragically and so young is completely numbing.”

In a statement on Facebook, Coleman said, “from riding at Belfast pony club to talking each other through moving across the world. You were a special one Megan.

“You were so good at bringing an energy to whatever room you walked into and your fun loving spirit will be sorely missed. Fly high blondie”.

Police confirmed to the Herald someone had died at Ashburton Racecourse after they received reports someone was injured there at 1.30pm.

A spokesperson for police said Taylor’s family wanted privacy at this time. WorkSafe has been notified and Taylor’s death has been referred to the Coroner.

The Herald understands at least one of the other jockeys involved in the fall has minor injuries.

Hato Hone St John said they received a call at 1.06pm about an incident at Ashburton Racecourse.

“Our Event Health Services team were already present at the racecourse for the event,” a spokesperson said.

“We further responded to the incident with two ambulances and one operations manager.

“One patient was taken to Ashburton Hospital with moderate injuries. Two other patients with minor injuries were assessed and treated at the scene.”

Taylor was only in her third season of riding and has ridden 16 winners.

The tragedy comes just four months after jockey Taiki Yanagida died from injuries suffered in a race fall at Cambridge in Waikato.

Racing Minister Kieran McAnulty passed on his sympathies to Taylor’s family on Twitter.

“I’m incredibly saddened to hear about the passing of jockey Megan Taylor during a race this afternoon. I want to pass on my deepest sympathies to Megan’s family and friends, and to all of those in the industry who worked alongside her and knew her.”

The Australian Jockeys’ Association said it was a “sad day in racing”.

“Sending our deepest condolences to family and friends of Megan Taylor who sadly passed after a race fall in NZ, also sending our best to the two other fallen riders. A sad day in racing.”

Taylor started her career in racing in 2019 after returning from Europe where she had spent two years working for New Zealand Olympic equestrian couple Tim and Jonelle Price.

“I had spent the last couple of years working for Tim and Jonelle Price, but when my visa expired, I came home to New Zealand,” she said in 2021.

“I started looking for a trackwork rider position and luckily there was one available with John.

“I’ve always loved working with animals, as along with my work as a groom, I also did three years in a shearing shed after I left school.

“People told me I had the build to be a jockey, so I guess that is how it has turned out and thankfully riding has come pretty naturally to me.”

In an interview a fortnight ago, Taylor described a love of horses that led to her becoming an apprentice jockey.

“Loved horses my whole life, love going fast. Small, small enough to be a jockey [and I] just thought ‘this is where I want to go’.”

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