GOLD Coast-based jockey Ashlee Mundy was a tireless, hard worker who did things her way.
Mundy, who was a regular rider for leading trainer Bevan Laming, died in hospital this morning after suffering serious head injuries yesterday at the once-a-year Kurow Cup meeting in North Otago, the Gold Coast Bulletin reports.
The 26-year-old New Zealand-born jockey was flown to Dunedin where doctors fought to save her life.
Her boyfriend, Gold Coast trackwork rider Brad Frew and close friend and fellow jockey Laura Cheshire last night flew to New Zealand to be by her side.
Mundy lay on the track motionless after her mount, Elleaye, clipped heels and fell at the 600m mark.
Races were delayed 40 minutes as emergency crews treated her before she was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition.
"I can confirm that Ashlee has suffered serious injuries and her condition is described as critical," McIntyre said yesterday.
"Not surprisingly things are pretty sombre around here.
"We all hope for the best, but all we can do is cross our fingers and pray."
Trainer Lisa Rae today said New Zealand racing had been hit hard by the death.
"She's the wrong person - she's been taken too soon," Rae said."She'd rock up every morning ready to ride - she was just one of those people who have a natural way with animals."
"Our owners are broken, they're distraught. Ashlee was just lovely, she's touched so many people's lives."
It's believed Mundy may have been galloped on during the incident.
Because of the severity of the fall police at the track conducted their own investigations and interviewed riders involved.
McIntyre said that process was not unusual for serious falls in New Zealand.
Stewards immediately adjourned an inquiry into the cause of the fall.McIntyre said the New Zealand Racing Integrity Unit would conduct a full investigation into the incident, including talking to riders and viewing the race video, and would work in conjunction with the police
Mundy, who has ridden multiple black type winners in New Zealand, returned to her homeland last week for a month-long stint riding on the South Island's summer circuit.
She was excited at spending Christmas with her parents for the first time in 10 years.
The stint began well when Mundy booted home a winner at Timaru's Phar Lap Raceway on Friday.
Mundy first arrived on the Gold Coast in 2009 where she had a three-month stint before she returned home.
Mundy came back to Australia last year and made it her home, forging a strong relationship with Laming.
She was well known on the Gold Coast and had a large circle of friends.
Read more at the Gold Coast Bulletin.