Dye's fall no reason to be looking for a scapegoat

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2006, 12:00am

Shane Dye's fall from Ambitious Marju on Sunday has attracted attention from around the world as the former New Zealand and Australian champion has seemingly won yet another battle against the odds, this time for his life.

Dye became the focal point of the eighth fall of the season and as far as stipendiary stewards are concerned that is eight too many.

Where life and limb is at stake, safety standards are paramount. The problem is that with so many champion riders competing, they race tighter and more competitively than stewards would like.

The inquiry into Dye's fall will reconvene at Happy Valley tonight, and stewards will eventually determine the cause of the horrific tumble.

Of the seven previous falls this season, three were at the start, one caused by a bleeder (Asset Play), two were deemed accidental and only one was put down to careless riding (Eddie Lai Wai-ming on Forte on December 11). The previous season, there were six falls - two at the start, one bleeder, two accidental and one caused by careless riding. And in 2003-04, there were eight - two at the start, one bleeder, three accidental and two through careless riding.

So the three-year average, assuming the final two meetings pass without incident, is seven falls per year from [this season] 716 races. That's one fall every 90 races.

It is a hazardous occupation. There may be no such thing as a jockey who never got properly banged up at least once in his career, and many have paid for their passion for this sport with their lives.

But in all the emotion that inevitably surrounds an incident like this, we caution against the view that someone must be made accountable.

The reality is that, as much as we might like it otherwise, accidents do happen. And just because this one had potentially tragic consequences doesn't mean the industry should go looking for a fall guy.