Young Aussie jockey Leah Kilner, who is in a coma after suffering brain injuries during a horror fall at a race in Grafton on Sunday, has squeezed her mother Siobhan’s hand and given her family and friends a ‘wave of hope’.
Kilner, who lives in Brisbane but was raised in the northern NSW town, hasn’t woken up fully since she fell from her mount Stella’s Turn in the third race at her home track – with the jockey also suffering a broken collarbone, ribs and leg injuries during the incident.
Prominent Queensland trainer Rob Heathcote, who is also Kilner’s boss, was preparing to visit her in hospital on Tuesday.
Leah Kilner (left) with mother Siobhan. Kilner remains in an induced coma but has been able to squeeze her mother’s hand, giving family and friends ‘a wave of hope’
Leah Kilner (far right) falls from Stella’s Turn in Grafton on Sunday afternoon
‘Her mother has asked me to come up today, they say even when you are in a coma that you can hear people,’ Heathcote told Channel 7.
‘She said Leah would love me to be there and I’ve got to ask her to wake up.’
Leah Kilner (right) with mother Siobhan. The racing family are very close
Heathcote said despite the moments since the fall being ‘distressing’ for the family, there was a glimmer of hope during one crucial moment.
‘They are probably going to bring her out (of the induced coma) briefly today,’ he said.
‘Talking to Siobhan last night – the emotion I could hear in her voice, the wave of hope that flowed through her after Leah woke up, opened her eyes, looked at her mum and squeezed her hand. So that is just brilliant.’
Kilner remains in an induced coma after the horror fall in Grafton on Sunday
Her family, including her father Greg, who are horse racing royalty in the northern rivers region, were at the track and saw the horrific incident unfold.
Stella Turn was euthanised after the accident, while the remaining six races of the meet were postponed.
‘It was clear (the jockeys) were in a mindset not to ride so I had a discussion with stewards and felt in it was everyone’s best interests to postpone the rest of the meeting,’ Clarence River Jockey Club CEO Michael Beattie said.
Leah Kilner comes from a horse racing family, members of whom were trackside when she suffered the fall that put her into a coma
Kilner is regarded as one of the best up-and-coming jockeys in the country, riding 204 winners and 386 placings in her 1,734-race career.
Heathcote said while Kilner obviously won’t be riding at Saturday’s meet at Doomben, one of her favourite horses will be in action – and will be ridden by fellow apprentice jockey Kyle Wilson-Taylor.
Leah Kilner now lives in Brisbane but was raised in Grafton, where she fell on Sunday
The Big Goodbye, trained by Heathcote and owned by a litany of micro-owners, will be running, and he said it will be an emotional moment for all involved.
‘Significantly, the owners of this horse love Leah because she has ridden the horse so well, won three races on him and won on Ipswich Cup day on him where she gave him a 10 out of 10 ride,’ Heathcote told News Corp.
‘They have also started up a gofundme page to raise some money for her. The outpouring of sympathy and goodwill messages has stunned me. It’s been incredible. This girl is so universally loved by so many.’
Social media was filled with messages of support for Kilner from jockeys, trainers and racing personalities.
Unfortunately Kilner was not the only female jockey to suffer a bad fall over the last few days.
Elissa Meredith was taken to ICU after suffering an eerily similar fall at Gunnedah, about 340km north-west of Sydney, on Monday.
She remains in an induced coma after tests found two contusions on her brain, but she has been cleared of other significant injuries.