Horse racing: John Kissick to miss 12 months with fractured spine

John Kissick is expected to make a full recovery from his fractured spine. Photo: Jenny Evans John Kissick is expected to make a full recovery from his fractured spine. Photo: Melissa Adams
Nanjing Night Net

Canberra jockey John Kissick has broken his back and could be out of the saddle for up to 12 months after a nasty cattle riding fall.

The popular hoop was flipped from a steer on a private property in Braidwood on Monday, landing heavily on his head and fracturing his T-12 vertebrae.

It is believed Kissick and a number of Canberra-based jockeys were enjoying an informal steer riding competition on the property where the incident occurred.

After initially experiencing a tingling sensation in his toes, he has since restored feelings in his limbs but will be bed-ridden with the lower back injury for the next six weeks.

It couldn’t come at a worse time for the in-demand rider with race meetings ramping up to coincide with Melbourne’s Spring Carnival.

Kissick’s fellow jockey and housemate Brodie Loy was awaiting results in hospital on Tuesday and said his friend was feeling “down” and “shattered” but relieved to have feeling in his legs and arms.

“You’ve got to look on the bright side of things; he’s not in a wheel chair, he’s going to be back riding and he’s going to be kicking goals in six months,” Loy said.

Kissick is expected to make a full recovery but it is a cruel blow for a highly sought after jockey.

“It’s massive,” Kissick’s manager Dean Walsh said. “Obviously this time of the year is busy and he had 20-odd rides booked for just this week so you can work out the magnitude of it over a course of 12 months.”

Kissick recently moved from Wagga Wagga to Canberra to further his career and has become a popular rider amongst trainers at Thoroughbred Park.

“Everybody hires him, he’s such a well sought after rider and he’s lucky and good enough to get the attention of just about everybody,” Walsh said.​

Although Kissick’s injury was not sustained working with horses, his accident is another reminder of the dangers associated with the sport a week out from the Melbourne Cup.

Canberra riders Richie Bensley, Carly Frater, and Chynna Marston have all suffered serious injuries over the last two years, as well as Victorian Michelle Payne.

And National Jockeys’ Trust manager and NSW Jockey’s Association vice president Tony Crisafi said the falls occur with frightening regularity.

“One in four NSW jockeys will be transported to hospital by ambulance following a fall from a horse at either track work or during the races,” Crisafi said.

This translates to one rider a week for the around 200 jockeys in NSW and Crisafi said it was important to be mindful of the dangers in the industry.

“While everyone is celebrating on Melbourne Cup day these jockeys are putting their lives on the line every day,” he said.

“The top jockeys riding at Flemington will be well remunerated but not the ones riding around Narrandera, Tumut and other places like that.”

“The National Jockeys’ Trust and the Australian Jockeys’ Association are here to help John in ever way. That’s what the NJT is for; to help injured jockeys and their families.”

At this stage it is believed Kissick’s fracture will heal without requiring surgery and the results of the MRI will provide further information.

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