Jockey Samara Johnson passes away while Gary Kirkup remains in in hospital following single-vehicle crash

Samara Johnson.
Samara Johnson.

The NSW country racing community as well as those in Canberra have been left in mourning following the passing of picnic rider Samara Johnson on Sunday.

Johnson, 25, died at the scene of a single-vehicle crash near Junee.

NSW Police confirmed in a release the crash happened on Gundagai Road at Eurongilly, 21km south-east of Junee, just before 2:30pm.

It is understood the car left the road and smashed head-on into a tree before bursting into flames.

Johnson’s partner, licensed racehorse trainer Gary Kirkup, was critically injured in the accident and was airlifted to Canberra Hospital where he still remains with severe abdominal injuries.

The passing of Johnson is another tragic blow for the Canberra racing community, following the passing of track rider Riharna Thomson, also a close friend of Johnson’s, earlier in the year.

"It's been a tragic year for the club, Riharna and Samara were close friends and have mutual friends who still work in the industry, we're all devastated, it's been a really tough year," Canberra Racing boss Peter Stubbs said.

Johnson was a rising jockey at the picnics and had ridden 26 winners in the past two years, which included the Tomingley Cup in April when she rode eight-year-old mare As Easy As to a seventh win in 10 starts.

Her final ride in the saddle was in front of a bumper crowd at the recent Bong Bong Picnics while the young jockey’s last victory came in the Young Cup on October 7, a meeting in which she scored a winning double.

In September’s Picnic Championship Final at Dubbo Turf Club, Johnson finished fifth on Track Flash in front of another huge crowd.

Counselling support has been arranged by Racing NSW to help assist participants during this time.

Canberra-based racing chaplain, Bob Prior, visited the Canberra Race Club on Monday morning.

Grieving friends of Johnson can contact Racing NSW counsellor, David Goldman, on 1300 88 7724.