THE Association of Irish Racecourses, which represents those who own and operate all 26 racecourses on the island of Ireland, is delighted to dedicate this week’s column to the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund (IIJF).
The Irish Injured Jockeys Fund was set up in 2014 to increase awareness and raise vital funds to support our injured jockeys. Funds raised through IIJF go to the injured riders who are in most need of support. The mission of the IIJF is to make a real difference to the lives and welfare of jockeys, past and present, and their families by raising funds to provide enhanced help, care, and support.
Raising the standards of care and safety for our jockeys is paramount. Ireland has the highest helmet standard in the world and became the first country in the world to increase safety vest standards from Level 1 to Level 2 on January 1st, 2017.
The Irish Injured Jockeys Fund works alongside the senior medical team at the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, and with help from Dr Jennifer Pugh and Dr Adrian McGoldrick, IIJF is continuously researching for all the practices to avoid injury, as well as to ensure a greater understanding and support of depression and concussion.
There has also been a huge step forward since 2018 as Horse Racing Ireland funded the Industry Assistant Programme, a 24/7 telephone hotline service for everyone in the industry, offering free and confidential support. A dedicated website workinginracing.ie and freephone number 1800 303 588 (ROI) and 0800 243 458 have also been established with a SMS call-back option for text messages at 00353 (0)86 383 3998.
There are few occupations that require two ambulances present before you can go to work, and being a jockey is one of them. On the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund’s website irishinjuredjockeys.ie there are some sobering statistics.
A jump jockey is 10 times more likely than a flat jockey to fall per ride. A point-to-point jockey is 20 times more likely to fall than a flat jockey, and therefore twice as likely than a jump jockey to fall per ride. A flat jockey who falls has a 46% chance of recordable injury, which is over twice as high as their jumping contemporaries, and five times higher than a point-to-point rider.
Like so many charities during the pandemic, the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund has been working in a challenging fundraising landscape. Their hugely popular and successful fundraising initiative The Corinthian Challenge had to be postponed due to Covid-19.
More than ever their annual Christmas card and calendar appeal to raise funds is of vital importance. The cards and calendars are available online and in store at TRI Equestrian. This year’s card features the original print “Study in grey” by kind permission of the artist Peter Curling, and they are priced at €12 for a pack of 10. The calendars are retailing at €15 per unit and 100% of the proceeds of all products will go to the charity.
The Association of Irish Racecourses and its members have a positive relationship with the IIJF. Many volunteers will be selling Christmas merchandise at various racecourses in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Furthermore, since 2019 racecourses nationwide have honoured the Association’s commitment to the IIJF support scheme by donating €123,000 per annum to help cover the running costs of the charity. This continues to enable all donations and fundraising efforts to go directly to the IIJF service users.
For any readers who would like to make a donation in support of the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund this festive season, please visit irishinjuredjockeys.com.