Tragedy has struck at Saturday’s Warialda Cup meeting with the death of popular North West jockey Darren Jones.
Tamworth’s Jones was one of three jockeys who came down after a terrible fall in the Warialda Sprint (1100m).
The 48-year old fell when aboard favourite Montague Clan in the third event, the horse coming down along with True Commitment (Melanie Bolwell) and Achanizo (Leanne Henry).
The three were taken to Warialda Hospital, with Jones unconscious when transferred, while Henry complained of general soreness and Bolwell also unconscious.
National Jockeys Trust posted an update on Saturday night stating Bolwell, an apprentice indentured to Tamworth trainer Sue Grills, had been transported to Gold Coast Hospital with serious head injuries.
The update stated Bolwell had not regained consciousness, with her injuries classified as serious.
The meeting was abandoned after race four, with the 2017 Warialda Cup among two races not run.
Originally from Glen Innes, Jones moved to Tamworth in the mid-1980’s as an apprentice to Merv Corliss.
He rode predominantly for Sue Grills, Leon Davies and Leslie Jeffries, who he teamed up with to ride Lonely Orphan to second place in Friday’s Orange Cup.
Jones had ridden more than 800 winners during his long career, building a wonderful affinity with grand galloper All Again.
The hoop enjoyed 13 winners aboard the chestnut gelding, highlighted by the 2008 Coonabarabran Cup.
“This is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to Darren’s family and friends,” Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said.
"It shows how dangerous this sport can be - what has happened here (at Randwick) and at Warialda.
“This brings you back to reality very quickly and my heart goes out to his family.”
A number of racing identities, including jockeys Brenton Avdulla, Nathan Rose, Tommy Berry, Zac Purton and Blake Spriggs took to Twitter to pay tribute to Jones.
Some may whinge about the Sydney Cup.. today we lost Darren Jones in a tragic race fall.. True gentleman all the way and good jockey 🙏R.I.P— Dean Pettit (@deanpet74) April 8, 2017
Absolutely gutted for the Darren Jones family. A good honest man that worked very hard.— Blake Spriggs (@BlakeSpriggs) April 8, 2017
Races can be re run but lives can never be replaced. Extremely sad to hear the passing of Darren Jones.— Nathan Rose (@TappyRose) April 8, 2017
My sincerest condolences go out to the family and friends of Darren Jones. A great ambassador and college for as long as I can remember. Rip— Adrian Layt (@adrianlayt) April 8, 2017
Tragic news from NSW country track Warialda today where NSWJA Committee Member Darren Jones has passed away after a racing incident - AJA— NationalJockeysTrust (@JockeysTrust) April 8, 2017