Racing fraternity mourns loss of local track legend

THE racing community has rallied around devastated Gympie trainer Barry Gill after the death of his wife, Gympie jockey Desiree Gill, in a racing accident at the weekend.

A grieving Mr Gill was back at the Southside track early yesterday preparing horses with the help of many friends.

"It's hard," Mr Gill said.

"But Des wouldn't want it any other way.

"We had discussed this situation over the years and I was under full instructions of what to do.

"She said 'don't give the horses away if something happens to me'."

Mrs Gill, who celebrated her 45th birthday just before her Gympie Cup win this year, was thrown from her mount Celtic Ambition at Corbould Park, Caloundra, on Saturday.

She was taken to Nambour Hospital with bleeding on the brain and placed in an induced coma before passing away early Sunday morning.

Mr Gill was about 200m away from the accident and watched it unfold.

He said his wife was "head slammed" into the turf.

"She didn't get a chance to roll", to cushion the fall.

"I have seen some horrific falls where jockeys get up and walk away.

"Others are minor and jockeys never walk again."

He said he wouldn't comment further on the accident until stewards finish their investigation.

CT scans of Mrs Gill's brain were taken at Nambour Hospital and sent to neurosurgeons in Brisbane late Saturday night.

"When they did the cat scans there wasn't one percent hope," Mr Gill said.

It was then he had to make the agonising decision to turn off life support.

"She didn't want to be left....not knowing who she was.

"We had discussed it... she told me time, after time, after time."

Mrs Gill is the 503rd jockey to die on Australian tracks and is the fourth to die as a result of a race accident in the last two years.

She started her racing career at the tender age of 15 and went on to be one of the best country hoops going around.

Her long career included seven Gympie premierships and back to back south-east Queensland country premierships in 2011-12 and 2012-2013.

To go with the highs there were lows.

Mrs Gill twice had her career put on hold after falls at Corbould Park.

In the mid-1990s she smashed her ankle in a track-work accident and was told she may never ride again.

Then in 2003, she fractured her lower leg in 10 places in another serious race fall.

After a long lay off from the sport she returned to the track only to be kicked in the face by a horse she was attempting to saddle.

A major operation to fix the injury ended with six titanium plates inserted in her jaw.

Proof of her toughness, she was back in the saddle just four weeks after the operation.

Mrs Gill leaves behind her husband and two adult sons Peter, aged 24, and Ryan, 21.

Gympie Times

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