Putting our Trust in Kayla

Despite a frustrating series of setbacks nearly ending her career as a promising jockey, Kayla Nisbet has refused to give up.

Nisbet's first professional race as a jockey in 2010 was a shot of adrenaline that has kept her hooked ever since.

"I remember it was a 2000m race and it went so quickly for me," she says.

"Honestly when I came back to scale, I had no idea of what had just gone on. But it was very exciting, I remember that."

Nisbet, now 22, moved from her home in Canberra to Melbourne to build on her promising start in horse racing.

But in 2013 she suffered a broken bone in her foot, followed shortly by a broken wrist. A year later she was in an enclosure at Gundagai when a horse reared up and landed on her left leg, breaking her tibia.

With her trademark cheerfulness, Nisbet patiently sat out her recovery.

"I just made a little bit of a holiday with it, which wasn’t the end of the world," she laughs.

Broken bones are a common occupational hazard for jockeys, with approximately 200 jockeys injured each year on Australian racetracks. This is why LUCRF Super makes a financial commitment to the National Jockeys Trust (NJT) to ensure ongoing support for injured jockeys and their families.

In June last year Nisbet’s health took a far more serious turn for the worst.

"I was shopping and I was with my mum and my sister luckily," she explains.

"I just felt really lightheaded and I thought it was probably because I hadn’t eaten or drank a lot that day. I turned around to sit down and as I did that I thought I was just fainting, but mum said I was seizing before I hit the ground."

The young jockey was diagnosed with epilepsy – a condition doctors attribute to a head injury she suffered in a car accident when she was four years old.

She was warned that she may never ride again, but Racing New South Wales deemed her fit to ride if she remained seizure-free for the next six months.

Nisbet is now on medication to control her condition and hasn’t suffered another seizure. During her long wait to return to racing, she was urged to contact the NJT for support.

"They said don’t hesitate to approach the Jockeys Trust and ask for assistance – that’s what they’re there for," Nisbet says.

"I didn’t want to at the start because I just felt a bit awkward asking them for money and help, but as soon as I did they helped me out straight away."

"It definitely made a massive difference. Obviously for the nine months I was out I wasn’t getting paid any income, so it made a huge difference and it was a massive help and relief for me while I was off."

Without the support she received from the NJT, Nisbet says she would have been forced to sell her property.

"If I had to sell it because I was out with epilepsy I would have been pretty devastated, so thankfully after the Jockeys Trust helped me I didn’t have to do that," she says.

Nisbet returned to racing this month with a stunning victory at the Black Opal Stakes in Canberra aboard Mercurial Lad. She hopes it will be a taste of things to come.

"I’m just hoping that I can keep riding winners," she says.

LUCRF Super is proud of its association with the National Jockeys Trust and happy to see Kayla back in the saddle.

Photo credit: Sarah Ebbett