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Jockey handed ban for reckless riding in death of Japanese rider Taiki Yanagida

Newshub logo Newshub 27/09/2022 Stephen Foote
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Jockey Sam Weatherley has been handed a nine-week suspension for "reckless" riding, which led to the death of Japanese rider Taiki Yanagida last month.

Yanagida, 28, was knocked unconscious, when mount Te Atatu Pash was brought down on the home straight, after colliding with Weatherley's horse Jack Hammer on the synthetic track at Cambridge.

He was put into an induced coma and transported to Waikato Hospital, where he was diagnosed with head and spinal injuries, and never regained consciousness.

The Racing Integrity Board has ruled Weatherley's turn "aggressive" and "abrupt", as it handed down the ban.

CCTV footage showed the moments leading up to the fall, with Weatherley, 23, describing his intention to make a "run" that lead to him bumping onto Darren Danis' horse Goodo Jo, which he said "overreacted quite badly", causing the "freak accident".

Goodo Jo's hindlegs swung out to the right and tripped Tanagida's horse, throwing Yanagida to the track, where he was run over by a trailing horse.

"Unfortunately, it's just a freak accident and something that I've got to live with for the rest of my life," Weatherley said last month. "It's very, very unfortunate."

Weatherley met with Yanagida's mother, who flew to New Zealand to be by her son's side. He also contributed to the funeral and a headstone for Yanagida's grave in Japan.

Board counsel Dennis Dow insists there clearly wasn't sufficient gap for Weatherley to make his move, which he deemed reckless.

In the past 12 months, Weatherley has been struck with 11 charges of careless riding, seven of resulting in convictions.

Weatherley maintains his actions were more careless than reckless, but was found guilty by the panel after a 45-minute deliberation.

Widely loved and respected by his peers, Yanagida rode 162 winners during his time on NZ tracks. 

He was the first jockey to die from a fall in New Zealand, since Rebecca Black in 2016.

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