The Australian Racing Board says four female jockeys who have been killed in the last 14 months have died through no fault of their own.
None of the four jockey deaths in Australia in the past 14 months can be blamed on the rider, the Australian Racing Board says.
Board chief executive Peter McGauran says two deaths this week have been caused by horses breaking down and have nothing to do with the rider.
South Australian apprentice Caitlin Forrest died in hospital on Thursday morning after a four-horse fall at Murray Bridge on Wednesday, the day after Queensland rider Carly-Mae Pye died from injuries she suffered in a trackwork fall.
Their deaths follow the fatal accidents involving two other female jockeys last year.
Champion jockey Simone Montgomerie died when her horse threw her to the ground on Darwin Cup day in August, while Desiree Gill was killed in a fall on the Sunshine Coast in November.
McGauran said the deaths were racing accidents and had nothing to do with gender.
“I understand there’s a widespread perception throughout the industry, and even society at large, that females are physically weaker than males,” he said.
“But whether that be true or not, they are equally capable in riding skills and courage and aptitude.”
McGauran said in both accidents this week, the riders were in front when their mounts broke their legs.
“They are tragic deaths caused by 600-kilo horses racing at 60 kilometres an hour and bringing the girls to the ground,” he said.
Jockey Tommy Berry used Twitter to stress his support.
“female riders are just as capable as male riders.” he tweeted.
Several high-profile racing industry figures are calling for a tougher response to safety concerns.
Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Chris Munce has questioned the high number of fatalities on Australian racecourses.
“Is it our style of riding? Shape of our tracks (tightness),” he tweeted.
Hall of Fame trainer Lee Freedman said it was time for drastic change in the sport, regardless of cost.
He said field sizes should be reduced, all horses should be strictly vet checked and penalties must be far stiffer for severe interference.
Freedman said wealthy breeders, race clubs, government and corporate bookmakers all shared the responsibility.
McGauran said he believes tracks have never been safer.
But, despite major advances like plastic running rails and better cambers, he says there are still catastrophic injuries and loss of life.
He said there are work safety investigations, coroner’s inquiries, horse autopsies and stewards reports underway for both accidents.
“We certainly owe it to these two young women to leave no stone unturned … to find out if there are any systemic lessons to be learned,” he said.
Forrest’s boyfriend, fellow jockey Scott Westover, said it was the worst day of his life.
“I lost the love off my life,” Westover said on his Facebook page.
“I’ll miss her sleeping talking and her rolling over to say she loves me every night.
“I know there will be an angel up there watching me everyday and riding with me.”