Yass Picnic Race Club pays tribute to Samara Johnson

Samara Johnson has enjoyed plenty of success. Photo: Elesa Kurtz
Samara Johnson has enjoyed plenty of success. Photo: Elesa Kurtz

The Yass Picnic Race Club (YPRC) has paid tribute to Canberra track-work rider and picnic jockey Samara Johnson, who died in a car crash on Sunday, December 3.

NSW Police confirmed the 25-year-old was killed in the single-vehicle crash on Gundagai Road at Eurongilly, 41km west of Gundagai, just before 2.30pm.

Matt Merriman, president of YPRC, said the news was a shock to the club.

“We are very sad to hear the news that Samara had passed on the weekend.

“On behalf of the race club, we send our condolences to her family and friends and we are thinking of them during this difficult time,” he said.

Ms Johnson had participated as a jockey at the Yass Picnic meeting during the past four years.

“We all thought she was a terrific person and talented rider,” Mr Merriman said.

Ms Johnson’s talent was evident in 2017 when she was the most successful jockey, winning the jockey challenge at both the Yass and Boorowa picnic races.

“Samara had always shown good sportsmanship, welfare for the horses and was a pleasure to talk to around the jockeys room,” Mr Merriman said.

Ms Johnson’s partner, licensed racehorse trainer Gary Kirkup, 54, was critically injured with severe abdominal injuries in the accident and was airlifted to Canberra Hospital.

It is understood the pair was returning from visiting Ms Johnson's family in Coolamon when the car left the road and hit a tree head-on, with Mr Kirkup at the wheel.

A file photo of Garry Kirkup from 2004. Photo: Richard Briggs

A file photo of Garry Kirkup from 2004. Photo: Richard Briggs

​Racing NSW released a statement paying tribute to Ms Johnson.

“The passing of Samara 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 stated.

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