It’s been a few weeks now since racing lost Simone Montgomerie.
There were wonderful tributes at the time. The kindest of words, for a talented jockey who was anything but a household name.
Those headlines have now faded. Her colleagues are back riding, many still with heavy hearts.
She lost her life, doing something she loved. On Darwin Cup day. Before the locals, who had adopted her as their premier rider.
There are few jobs where you might lose your life before clocking off. Jockeys face that reality every day. Every ride. Every furlong.
When Simone died, the outpouring of emotion from those in the racing game was overwhelming. Genuine distress. From people who knew and loved her. And others who’d never met her.
Social media came into its own. The industry shines at such awful times. Participants who can bicker about the state of the track and the price of a pie, come together as one.
There were so many impressive gestures. The Darwin club donating the Cup prizemoney to Simone’s family. Tommy Berry giving up his winnings for a day. Clubs around Australia naming races in her memory. All that money, going to a foundation to help her daughter Kodah.
I’d never backed one of her runners. In fact I’d only ever seen her in action a few times. But in the days after her death, like so many others, I felt close to her and her shattered family. From a distance, we wanted them to find some kind of peace.
It also made me think about all the other jockeys, who take those same risks. Hoops I know, personally, and through Facebook and Twitter. Hard working, fun, courageous people.
It’s so easy for us to bag them, when things don’t go our way. We want perfection, every time. Our pockets talking. But when we see a fall, no matter how minor, we hold our breath.
Life moves on, of course. The trick now, is for us to never forget Simone. A mum who didn’t make it home. We owe her that much.