Jockey DK Ashish dies after tragic fall

KOLKATA/MUMBAI: The cruel hand of fate snatched away a talented saddle artist well before his prime. Jockey DK Ashish breathed his last at 00.55 hours at a private hospital in Kolkata on Monday, succumbing to severe head injuries sustained barely 36 hours earlier at the city racecourse after suffering a fatal fall from his mount Bold As Brass in the Calcutta Oaks.

The racing fraternity across the country has been left numbed by the shock of his demise which brought back memories of over three decades ago (in April 1979) when a brilliant young jockey Karl Umrigar innocuously fell off his mount Vasudha and his lungs were punctured by the hooves of the animal. He battled for his life for several days before passing away.

The news of Ashish's death has shaken the Mumbai horse racing fraternity. "He was a very talented rider," leading jockey-turned trainer Pesi Shroff told TOI on Monday. "He had told me almost a month ago that Myrtlewood was my best horse and that proved right. I will miss his smiling face as no matter what, he always kept smiling," added Shroff for whom Ashish was riding during the current Mumbai season.
Pradeep Chouhan, the president of Jockey Association of India (JAI), expressed shock. "He (Ashish) was a great friend of mine. We had told our colleagues in Kolkata to ensure that he gets the best of medical attention and JAI will bear the cost. As per our rules, we will provide financial assistance to his family," said Chouhan.
RWITC media chief Vivek Jain also mourned Ashish's death. "The passing away of jockey Ashish is tragic and has cast a spell of gloom on the entire fraternity. We must find out if there are newer safety gears that jockeys can use to mitigate the impact of falls. He was an upcoming boy and known for his friendly nature. It's indeed very, very unfortunate," said Jain, adding: "We will give approx Rs 7.5 lakh from RWITC's Fund, and equivalent amount from the Jockey's Association Fund, totalling about Rs 15 lakh to his family."
Chouhan, stated that Ashish's accident was a freak one but admitted that of late there has been a rise in such accidents for several reasons. For one, he felt that the apprentice jockey schools across the country were producing substandard rookies.

"We were taught the tricks of the trade at the grassroots level and had to really work hard in every aspect of horsemanship before being contracted by any stable. Nowadays, there's a rush to bind young talents in a contract. The youngster too gets carried away and starts to throw caution to the wind. This can be dangerous for one and all," Chouhan lamented.

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