The stars of Australian racing swapped their jockey silks for cricket whites when they took to the cricket field for the seventh annual TAB National Jockeys Trust T20 cricket match at Williamstown Oval in Melbourne on Monday.

The jockeys ahead of the NTJ20 match (Twitter)

Record donations of more than $120k have been raised towards this year’s National Jockeys Trust T20 cricket match, to help injured jockeys and their families.

A bumper crowd flocked to Williamstown oval for the 7th edition of the annual event, with a star-studded line-up again assembled on both the Jockeys and the All-Star sides.

With Damien Oliver to captain The Touchstone Farm Jockeys’ team who include Melbourne Cup (Gr 1, 3200m) winners Michelle Payne, Corey Brown and Brett Prebble against the Heritage Finance Racing All Stars team which includes retired AFL player Brendan Fevola, former Australian Test cricketer Bryce McGain and former Socceroo Archie Thompson. 

For just the second time in the event’s seven-year history, the match was taken out by the All Stars side which made 117 runs after 22 overs, to the Jockeys 103.

Former AFL star and radio host Brendan Fevola impressed for the victors and was awarded man of the match.

“Good to be involved in a win, we batted well, we put up a good score, it was just good fun to be involved,” Fevola said.

“It’s been important that we help raise a lot of money for the jockeys and families who have been going through a tough time.”

Three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver led the Jockeys side and said the opposition just proved too good, and that he’d certainly hope to be back again next year to support the most important fundraising event for jockeys and their families who are injured and in need of assistance. 

“We tried to save the match late with our two guns Mitch Goring and Adrian Ledger but it was too little too late. It was a lot of fun, played in good spirit, but to also raise some much-needed funds for the injured jockeys and their families and it’s great to see so many people getting behind it and we really appreciate their support,” he said.

The Jockeys’ side won last year’s match and again has a strong team including Cox Plate winner Steven Arnold who is renowned for his wicket-keeping ability and Golden Slipper winner Brenton Avdulla who is a talented bowler.

The National Jockeys Trust is a charitable trust established in 2004 to help jockeys and their families, who are in need of assistance having suffered serious or fatal injuries in the saddle. Since its inception, the NJT has provided $4.3 million of funding and supported 435 jockeys and their families. 

NJT20 Cricket raises money via the generosity of the sponsors and donors, who make a donation towards their favourite player to support them in their quest to support the National Jockeys Trust with last year’s game raising $114,000.

Donations came in strongly and less than 24hrs out from the start of the star-studded match, public donations were more than $55k on the Everyday Heros’ website, already up on last year’s overall total of $52k, while the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) has proudly donated almost $60,000.

“It was fantastic to see so many donations already coming in, especially even before the actual day of the match,” said Australian Jockeys’ Association chairman Des O’Keeffe.

“Of course, every dollar counts so I urge people to still keep donating, it really is going to such a good cause and these funds are vitally needed.”

Noel and Doris Thurgood, the parents of injured jockey Ricky Thurgood, tossed the coin before the start of Monday’s match. After a race fall in 1980 Ricky was diagnosed as a quadriplegic with significant brain damage. 

“To have the Thurgood family in attendance was very special for us all, and the fact they made the time to come is very much appreciated,” O’Keeffe said. 

“The NJT20 cricket match highlights the incredible mateship between racing participants, and I’m so pleased to see members of the public attending the match to have some fun and to throw their support behind this important cause.”  

The free event had a large turnout of supporters promoting the great cause, and with the 1992 Melbourne Cup hero Subzero, it was a brilliant day of fun for all the family with kids’ activities, food trucks, sausage sizzle and cash bar enjoyed by both the general public and avid racing fans.

For more information on the National Jockeys Trust please visit www.njt.org.au.

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