Born to ride

By GREG WHITE

COFFS Harbour Racing Club CEO Russ Atkinson admits the days are tough and things move slowly while the local racing 'family' come to grips with the loss of young jockey Daniel Baker.

"Down at the stables the work goes on but nobody is saying much," he said.

"It's just the most dreadful thing and there hasn't been a person who hasn't been affected by what's happened."

But with a meeting to be run tomorrow the business side of the sport goes on.

"The flags of the racecourse will be at half mast and the jockeys will be offered black arm bands to wear if they wish," Atkinson advised.

"Our race caller Rod Fuller will delicately mention the situation and there's a possibility something such as pausing for a minute's silence will be observed.

"However, for the jockeys especially, this is a very strange and difficult time and the last thing we wish to do is burden them with extra pressure.

"There'll be consultation with the senior riders and acting chief steward Craig Pringle before any special arrangements are made so they are comfortable with it."

Atkinson said a benefit would be organised at a future stage but the immediate priority was caring for Daniel's family.

"Looking after his mother, Debbie, is the most important thing, as well as (brother) Tim and (girlfriend) Linda," he added.

"The TRB are already working through Gordon Yorke to make sure there are sufficient funds to help everybody cope."

Despite the special circumstances the racing club is still keen for punters to enjoy themselves at tomorrow's twilight meeting.

"We need to balance the situation so there isn't total gloom about the place and the public can celebrate with their Christmas parties," Atkinson said.

"For once it may be an advantage to have the jockeys and trainers cordoned off so they can attend to their business in their own way."

Details of funeral arrangements are still to be announced as a coronial report is still pending, complicated by the accident occurring in New South Wales while the rider passed away in Queensland.

Stewards are expected to announce tomorrow when and where the formal hearing into the events surrounding the fall is to be convened.



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