JOCKEY Megan Taylor has tragically died at the age of 26 after being caught in a devastating fall with four horses.
Reports say a student rider fell off her steed when another horse hit her while she was lying on the track.
On Thursday, the jockey raced a Red Orchid at Ashburton Racecourse in New Zealand.
According to the New Zealand Herald, “shortly after” she was declared dead and other riders were informed of the heartbreaking news.
The rest of the meeting was cut short as tributes began to arrive.
One of Taylor’s friends, Alex Coleman, said: “I’m not sure anyone can find the words to describe how tragic the loss of Meghan is.
“She was such a beautiful soul who was loved by so many and the shock of being received so tragically and so young is completely overwhelming.
“From riding in the Belfast pony club to talking to each other and traveling the world. She was special.
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“She was so good at bringing energy to any room she walked into and her fun spirit will be sorely missed.”
Another close friend Leah Reuben wrote on Facebook: “My heart hurts when I hear this terrible news.
“You were such a beautiful soul and my sister’s best friend. I love you”.
While Horse Racing Minister Kieran Macanulty said: “I am incredibly saddened to learn of the passing of jockey Megan Taylor during a race this afternoon.
“I want to convey my deepest condolences to Meghan’s family and friends and to all those who worked with and knew her.”
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing CEO Bruce Sharrock said: “I am incredibly saddened by the news of the passing of jockey Megan Taylor during the race.
“I want to express my deepest condolences to Meghan’s family and friends, as well as to all those who worked with her and knew her.
“Our deepest condolences go out to Megan’s family, friends and others in the racing community who have worked closely with Megan.
“We will try to support them in every possible way in the coming days and weeks.
“We will also support jockeys and other racers today.”
David Walsh, a mentor to young jockeys in New Zealand, said: “Meghan’s death is just a terrible tragedy. She was such a lovely person and has progressed very well in horseback riding over the past 12 months.”
A spokesman for the local ambulance service said: “Our Event Health Services team was already present at the racetrack during the event.
“We also responded to the incident with two ambulances and one operations manager.
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“One patient was taken to Ashburton Hospital with moderate injuries.
“Two other patients with minor injuries were examined and treated on the spot.”
Taylor became the second jockey to die while racing in New Zealand this year.
Japanese-born racer Taiki Yanagida died after a horrific crash mid-race in August.
Taylor skated in her third season and won 16 races.
In her latest Instagram post, Taylor revealed herself in full horse riding gear and wrote, “Do what you love, love what you do” – getting paid to hug animals daily… I can’t complain!
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