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Fall hearing likely in 2008

By GREG WHITE

THE formal hearing into the fall that claimed the life of Coffs Harbour jockey Daniel Baker on December 2 is unlikely to be held until next year.

One possible date under consideration is Thursday, January 17, when Clarence River Jockey Club is scheduled to hold the next meeting on the Grafton course.

Acting chairman of stewards Craig Pringle said his panel would not be rushing to finalise the investigation until after a funeral was held for the young rider, and his family was given time to grieve.

"There are matters such as the coronial findings to be considered so that alone is likely to delay things," he said.

"Also, our chairman Bill Fanning is on leave after a back operation and it wouldn't be appropriate to continue until he's fully recovered and back on the job."

The panel launched an immediate inquiry into the incident and is believed to have taken some evidence from seven riders who participated.

Senior jockeys Lorna Cook, Raymond Spokes and Jasen Watkins along with apprentices Ben Looker and Michael Hellyer all rode at Friday's Coffs Harbour twilight TAB meeting.

Apprentice Joshua Jones transferred mid-week on loan to trainer Anthony Cummings and rode at Saturday's Rosehill Gardens meeting but declined to comment on the race under instructions from his master, Ballina trainer Stephen Lee.

Coffs Harbour Racing Club is planning a fundraising campaign to assist the Baker family, with a major event planned for February.

In the interim, the National Jockey's Trust and the TRB with the co-operation of CEO Peter V'Landys and chief steward Ray Murrihy are moving to ease the immediate financial pressures.

Daniel Baker is the third rider to be fatally injured at the Grafton racecourse after the death of senior jockeys Athol Connor in 1975 and Peter Schumacher in 1976.