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Racing industry rallies to help injured jockey

Thomas Russell

Thomas Russell. © Race Images

The New Zealand racing industry is pulling together to help out a jockey who was severely injured in a trackwork fall last month.

Thomas Russell, 31, remains in intensive care in Christchurch Hospital with no feeling below his neck after a trackwork fall at Bulls last month. The accident happened at the property of trainer Raymond Connors.

Doctors have inserted a device in his chest to help it inflate properly with the assistance of a ventilator, which is why he has not yet been moved to Burwood Spinal Unit.

Those close to Russell, including friend and jockey Darryl Bradley, are working with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing to make it easier for racing industry participants to donate to helping Russell with his future. There will be an Authority to Deduct form available on the NZTR website on Friday to facilitate donations.

“We want to give them the opportunity to donate even a small part of any raceday earnings or winnings,”  Bradley said.

“This way a jockey or trainer can donate a percentage of any money won by a certain horse or horses they are associated with. And we are hoping some owners will want to do the same with their horses over the next month.”

“It is great NZTR are helping out through their website because that makes the whole process easier,” Bradley said.

NZTR GM Finance and IT Campbell Moncur said all that needs to happen is the designated racing manager of a horse to complete the form and send it to NZTR and the agreed prize money deduction will be taken care of.

“We are proud to be able to offer some help with the logistics because obviously people in the industry are aware of Thomas’s situation,” Moncur said.

The TAB is also helping Russell with 10 per cent of all bets placed in the Jockeys’ Challenge for the month of August being donated to him.

Among those helping out is the Waverley Racing Club, which will donate $1800 from its meeting today. It is also challenging jockeys, trainers and owners to match its donation.

Bradley said several other fund raising initiatives were under way, and a Facebook page has been started to help raise funds.

During August the Ezygo Jockey’s Challenge will be known as the Thomas Russell Ezygo Jockey’s Challenge.

Russell started his riding career in Hawke’s Bay before moving to Woodville, where he was apprenticed to Bruce Marsh. He then went into partnership with trainer Ken Kelso at Matamata. After getting back into riding, he was based at Wanganui. Russell has ridden 276 winners during his career.

Reporting: Michael Guerin, NZ Thoroughbred Marketing

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