By Andrew Atkinson
Amateur jockey Lorna Brooke has died aged 37 following a heavy fall at Taunton this month, the first rider to sustain fatal injuries while race-riding under rules in Britain or Ireland since Tom Halliday in July 2005.
A period of silence was observed at every meeting in Britain on April 19 and jockeys wore black armbands.
A statement by the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF) said: “It is with deep sadness that we have to share the tragic news that Lorna Brooke passed away yesterday (April 18).
“Her family thank everyone for their kindness in the last ten days, particularly the staff at Southmeads Hospital who were so professional. They will be having a private funeral and will hold a celebration of Lorna’s life once Covid-19 restrictions allow.”
In a statement the BHA said: “The entire racing community is in mourning. We ask for the privacy of Lorna’s family to be respected at this time and we await the opportunity to celebrate her young life when restrictions allow.”
Chief executive Julie Harrington, said: “Lorna was a much-loved member of our sport, in which she and her family are steeped. She demonstrated many of the qualities that make British racing so special.
“She was a proud competitor who was driven by an abundance of love not only for the sport but for the horses she competed with. My thoughts, along with everybody else who loves racing, are with Lorna’s family, friends and colleagues at this dreadful time.”
Lorna Brooke was airlifted to Southmead Hospital in Bristol on April 8 after falling from Orchestrated, trained by her mother Lady Susan Brooke, and was taken into intensive care with a suspected spinal injury. Due to complications she was placed in an induced coma on April 17.
Lorna rode 17 winners including 40 in point-to-points most notable when winning the first running of a ladies’ Chase in Britain or Ireland at Fairyhouse in 2015 on Moonlone Lane.
A statement by the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) said: “This is a devastating reminder of the dangers our brave men and women face and our thoughts and prayers are with Lorna’s family, friends and colleagues.” PJA chief executive Paul Struthers added: “Lorna was an incredibly hard-working, popular member of the weighing room and while her licence was as an amateur, she was a professional in every other sense. We have lost one of our own and she’ll be sorely missed.”
Lorna, who rode her final winner under rules in October 2019, was a regular in point-to-points and was praised by the Amateur Jockeys Association of Great Britain and its chief executive Sarah Oliver.
“Lorna was blessed with a vivacious, bubbly personality and her smile lit up the racecourse wherever she went,” said Oliver.
“Many of us are familiar with Lorna’s presence over many years not only on the racecourse but also point-to-pointing, which was her passion.
“Her unfailing smile allowed Lorna to make friends and her thirst for racing was unquenchable. She embodied everything there is to love about jump racing.
“Her loss is keenly felt in the weighing room and beyond. One thing is for certain. Lorna will never be forgotten.”
Trainer Jonjo O’Neill and said: “This is so incredibly sad. All out thoughts are with all Lorna’s family and friends.”