TRIBUTE: Lisa Stevens (AJA Critical Incident consultant), Rachael Jones (Racing Queensland) and Des O’Keeffe (GM Australian Jockeys Association Victorian Branch) at a memorial to Carly-Mae Pye.
TRIBUTE: Lisa Stevens (AJA Critical Incident consultant), Rachael Jones (Racing Queensland) and Des O’Keeffe (GM Australian Jockeys Association Victorian Branch) at a memorial to Carly-Mae Pye. Allan Reinikka Rokaracing

Specialist team helps those reeling from Carly-Mae tragedy

RACING industry stakeholders in Rockhampton have warmed to the immediate support being provided following the tragic passing of jockey Carly-Mae Pye on Tuesday.

At Callaghan Park track work early yesterday Melbourne's Des O'Keefe from the Australian Jockeys Association arrived with representatives including a sports physiologist to provide assistance and counselling.

He and Lisa Stevens flew in from Melbourne and along with Racing Queensland's Rachael Jones thereby providing a far-reaching network of grief support to assist jockeys, trainers, officials and racecourse workers.

O'Keefe who has a long and distinguished racing career explained he represented the National Critical Incident Protocol Board set-up by Australia's principal racing jurisdictions.

This body works as a wing to the Australian Jockey Association in conjunction with the Australian Jockey's National Trust.

"In cases such as the tragic accident with Carly-Mae Pye, we provide immediate support to not only jockeys but all involved in the industry that may have been affected by this horrendous occurrence.

"Through our team we provide trauma and grief counselling on the ground wherever the accident happened throughout Australia. It is important to make this available to all in need in the racing industry as soon as possible", O'Keefe said.
 

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During yesterday he held meetings with Rockhampton Jockey Club committee and executive members, ground staff, officials, jockeys, trainers and strappers.

"It is patently obvious to me from just being in Rockhampton for a few hours how close-knit the racing fraternity are here.

"There are so many genuinely caring people at Callaghan Park who held Carly-Mae Pye in the highest regard.

"They are deeply shocked by what occurred and her passing and this is completely understandable.

"We are here to assist and if necessary will stay as long as required", O'Keefe said.

He said Carly-Mae Pye's tragic death would leave a lasting legacy on everyone not only associated with racing in Central Queensland by also in the equestrian sport.

"People have come up to us voicing their highest level of respect for Carly-Mae", O'Keefe said.

The team visited stables away from Callaghan Park and O'Keefe was attempting to contact, and if possible visit injured jockey Nathan Patchett, who received brain injuries in a Callaghan Park fall two seasons back.

O'Keefe said he could not speak too highly about how openly the racing community in Rockhampton had welcomed the presence of the team.

"This is our second visit to Queensland in the last 12 months after the Desiree Gill tragedy at the Sunshine Coast. The support we have received from Darren Condon from Racing Queensland and now the Rockhampton Jockey Club is amazing."

Admitting that the racing industry was in some ways deemed as a dysfunctional family it bonded together in times of heartbreak and tragedy, he said.

"Seeing what I've seen and experienced in Rockhampton makes me very proud to be part of this industry", O'Keefe said.

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