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Japanese Jockey Fujioka Dies Following Mid-Race Fall

The grade 1-winning jockey succumbs to head and chest injuries.

(L-R): Jockey Kota Fujioka with trainer Tomokazu Takano after a victory from Namur in the Mile Championship at Kyoto Race Course

(L-R): Jockey Kota Fujioka with trainer Tomokazu Takano after a victory from Namur in the Mile Championship at Kyoto Race Course

Sankei Sports

Kota Fujioka, age 35, has died after suffering severe injuries in a mid-race fall at Hanshin April 6, the Japan Racing Association has announced. The grade 1-winning jockey, who won 803 races in Japan, sustained head and chest injuries after being unseated in the seventh race and died in a hospital. 

Veteran rider Yutaka Take said: "I have never felt this much pain and sadness. I can't believe it. Going forward, I want to race with thoughts of Kota in my heart."

Fujioka was twice successful at the top level, including when landing the 2009 NHK Mile Cup (G1) on Jo Cappuccino at Tokyo Racecourse for Kazuya Nakatake. In November, he stepped in at short notice for Ryan Moore, who was ruled out after injuring his back in a fall, to partner Namur in the Mile Championship (G1) at Kyoto. 

Despite getting the assignment at short notice, Fujioka said he felt prepared for the test.

"I'd seen how the filly raced before and was aware of her ability in addition to receiving advice and information from the trainer as well as (Joao) Moreira, who had ridden her in her last start," he said following the race. 

Fujioka's death comes a week after the racing community mourned the loss of popular jockey Stefano Cherchi, who died aged 23 following a fall in Australia.