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Protective skull cap a lifesaver: O'Hara
17:41 AEST Tue Dec 3 2013

Kathy O'Hara says she owes her life to the protective helmet jockeys must wear in races.

One of Australian racing's most popular jockeys, O'Hara was knocked unconscious in a race fall at Randwick last Friday.

And after watching footage of her spill, O'Hara is adamant her injuries would have been much worse had it not been for her skull cup.

"I did watch the fall and by the looks of my helmet and back of my head I'm quite lucky," she said.

"Lucky I was wearing it or I don't think I would be here to tell the tale. It's done its job and I'm here to talk about it."

O'Hara suffered a deep cut to the back of her head but doesn't expect to spend too much time out of the saddle.

She said wet riding boots and slippery saddle irons may have contributed to her losing balance and becoming unseated.

"I'm going to have a chat to stewards about the irons I was using," she told Sydney radio station Sky Sports Radio.

"I've had a little bit of trouble with them in the past when it has been a bit wet.

"(On Friday) I had to get off the mare behind the barrier - whether my boots were a little bit wet, I don't know."

Chief steward Ray Murrihy said he was concerned about jockeys' toes slipping out of their irons.

"There is not much grip between rider and horse," he said. "It is something we need to sit down and discuss so better safeguards can be put in place."

Robert Thompson, the veteran jockey who is the Australian record holder for the most number of wins, says a modern-day style of riding on short stirrups can be blamed for an increase in race falls.

"If you ride a bit longer you stay on longer," he said.

"These days young ones starting off, if they rode a couple of holes longer they'd be better off."


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