A JOCKEY banned for six weeks after his careless riding sadly led to the death of a horse has admitted: “This is the worst moment in my career.”
Chaos engulfed the Perth Cup at Ascot racecourse in Australia on New Year’s Day – and left the 10,000 punters there in a state of shocked silence.
Chili Is Hot, whose jockey is wearing the red cap in the middle, sadly lost her life as a result of the awful mid-race pile-up
Jockey Azzopardi has been banned for six weeks after he admitted careless riding
The 10,000 punters at the track were said to have fallen silent as the contest was abandoned mid-race for the first time ever
Jockey Joseph Azzopardi was riding Buster Bash when the horse moved out and made contact with five-year-old mare Chili Is Hot.
She clipped the heels of Buster Bash and went down, with another horse Dom To Shoot running over the top of her.
The terrifying scenes came barely a furlong into the big Group 2 race and commentator Darren McAullay said: “The crowd went from a mighty roar to utter disbelief.”
And it meant the contest was abandoned for the first time in its 136-year history after emergency services rushed round to jockeys and horses as they kept racing.
Azzopardi was hauled in for questioning with the raceday stewards, where he was given a six-week ban after admitting careless riding.
Two more jockeys – who were said to be ‘visibly shaking’ in the aftermath – were injured while Dom To Shoot fortunately suffered only minor cuts and bumps.
Stewards said multiple angles of video footage confirmed Azzopardi allowed his horse to shift outwards when he was not clear of Chili Is Hot.
A devastated Azzopardi, 27, told stewards: “This is the worst moment in my racing career.
“It was not intentional and I was trying to control Buster Bash, who was riding waywardly.”
Chili Is Hot’s jockey Peter Knuckey said: “I went forward on my mount from a wide barrier and was moving in, looking for a position. Buster Bash was inside me.
“Buster Bash got its head up and shifted out. I tried to shift Chili Is Hot out to avoid Buster Bash.
“However, Chili Is Hot clipped Buster Bash’s heels and fell. Her legs were taken out from under her.”
Chili Is Hot’s heartbroken owner said the thoroughbred was like a pet to his family.
He said: “We were highly emotional, arriving home and going into her empty stall.
“It was devastating to leave Ascot without her. She’s been part of our family for over four years.”
Perth Racing CEO James Oldring said: “This is one of the hardest events for anyone involved with racing to deal with.
“Our thoughts are with all those connected with Chili Is Hot.”