Horse Racing has been plunged into mourning after a jockey with a ‘beautiful smile’ died aged 43 following her devastating mid-race fall.
Maria Alejandra Bruzual was flung from her out-of-control horse and smashed into a rail during a contest in Venezuela.
She had been riding the favourite, Sun Cab, when the devastating collision occurred.
Footage from the race, which Sun Racing is not showing, captured Bruzual racing away from the main body of the field.
Her horse appeared to jink into the rail with the jockey coming off and smashing into the dirt.
Bruzual was reportedly treated on the track before being rushed to a nearby hospital where she tragically died from her injuries.
Footage posted on Facebook showed her ‘smiling beautifully’ just moments before the fall that killed her.
Her passing was labelled an ‘irreparable loss’ as Kentucky Derby-winning rider Sonny Leon led the tributes.
He said: “How sad for all of us equestrians who know you Maria. Rest in peace friend, may God have you in glory.”
All races scheduled for Sunday at La Rinconada racecourse in Coche, just south of capital Caracas, were suspended as a mark of respect.
A statement from the country’s racing authority read: “With great regret, the National Institute of Racecourses fulfils the painful duty of reporting the death of the jockey María Alejandra Bruzual in an accident that occurred Saturday, October 14, 2023 at the National Racecourse of Valencia.
“It is a very hard moment for Venezuelan sport, as it is a sister, a friend, a daughter, a valuable woman of Venezuelan horse racing.
“Our deepest words of condolences to family and friends in the face of such irreparable loss.”
A later photo posted showed the jockey’s friends and family at her funeral and had the following message: “‘A jockey is always going to get up after a fall and the day he no longer does, it is because God sent him to call…’
“The great family of the National Institute of Racecourses accompanies Maria Alejandra Bruzual on her farewell this Sunday.
“A woman who, day after day, passionately pursued her career as a jockey.”
Another video showed a line of people queuing to pay their respects to the late jockey.
Bruzual had been a jockey for 17 years since quitting her job in business admin.