Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

In Loving Memory

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

In Loving Memory

Article excerpt


NEARLY 21 years down the track, Ballina trainer Kevin Nipperess can still clearly recall the last words he ever spoke to one of the most successful jockeys on his books, Iris Nielsen.

It was at the Lismore racecourse on Saturday, March 19, 1988.

"She had ridden a horse earlier in the day for me and the last words I said to her were 'I'll see you Monday'," Nipperess said.

But Nipperess never got to see the likeable 38-year-old again as she was fatally injured when the horse she was riding, Happy Zephyr, fell during the running of the 1200m Association Stakes.

Nipperess received the dreadful news of the accident once he got home and the secretary of the race club asked him to try to find Iris's husband, Gary.

"But by the time I got to Broadwater, he had already gone to the hospital," Nipperess said.

It's been reported that on the way to the racecourse that day, Iris Nielsen told her then nine-year-old daughter Rebecca that the ride onboard Happy Zephyr was going to be her last.

Her husband, Gary Nielsen, who stills trains and races horses locally, confirms the story.

"She had talked about giving it away, she had a bad back," he said.

"That horse she was on that day ... had won the week before and they asked her to ride it again.

"Otherwise, she would have probably retired before that day.

"It was just one of those things. The horse in front (Tropo) was ridden by one of our best jockeys, Johnny Hutchings, and he just fell straight in front of her.

"It was one of those shocks that nobody ever wants.

"Even though we had discussed plenty of times what could happen, we knew, and she knew, the dangers.

"But if you are prepared to take those risks, unfortunately things can happen to some people."

To commemorate Iris's life, the Ballina Jockey Club has organised the second running of the Iris Nielsen Ladies Invitation Cup (1300m) on Sunday, January 25. …

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