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Jockey astounds Perth punters by clinging onto horse head first before unlikely win

By Melissa Jones

A jockey astounded punters by clinging onto his horse head first – and then going on to win the race.

Stephen Mulqueen showed incredible skill to stay in the saddle aboard favourite Spark Of Madness at Perth. Making his debut over chase fences, the Lucinda Russell-trained horse's inexperience nearly cost him all chance at just the second obstacle.

The 13-8 shot appeared to take off too early and dragged his hind legs through the birch, which threw Mulqueen up in the air. Footage from Racing TV, on the reverse camera angle, showed the rider's left foot coming out of the stirrup as he holds onto his mount head first.

In the clip, which has been viewed thousands of times, Mulqueen bounces with the momentum of the horse as he struggles to get back into position. For several strides he cannot see where he is going, but then he managed to slide back in place and defy gravity.

"Can Stephen Mulqueen recover?" said commentator Simon Holt. "He does so! And he has still got the lead on Spark Of Madness. There is applause from the crowd."

Stephen Mulqueen held on and jumped the next fence with no stirrups (RacingTV)

Mulqueen could not get his feet in the stirrups before the third fence, but kept his cool to take it without them. Spark Of Madness was headed by a rival ahead of the fifth jump in the Racing Welfare Supporting Mental Health Awareness Novices' Handicap Chase.

At the second last, the sporting pair were back in front again in the three-runner contest. Mulqueen was given another scare when the six-year-old dived at the final fence.

The rear view camera showed a slo-mo of the incident at the second fence (RacingTV)

However he battled on well to defeat Bob's Bar, ridden by dual champion jockey Brian Hughes, by three-quarters-of-a-length. Mulqueen spoke about how the incident unfolded on Racing TV, as he was inundated with praise from racing fans.

"The fences are painted white now and it's his first time over fences," Mulqueen said. "It was the ditch, maybe it was the board that was something new and white. He just came up, a bit brave, landed on top of it.

"I was picking where I was going to land for a long time! I thought if I got my foot out I'd jump the next and assess the situation. But once I got my feet back in (the stirrups) I thought well we will just go for a clear round now, just sit and pop away – try to teach him a bit.

"To be fair to him he was good and honest to jump without irons, he was long at the last again. But he's young, he's learning and hopefully it will be a bit straighter from now on."

The replay of Mulqueen's acrobatics has been viewed thousands of times on social media. Commentator Holt called it a "remarkable win" and hailed the jockey's "fantastic recovery."

The sport's followers were equally impressed and one person tweeted: "This is an epic effort, the replay with behind the fence view is insane." Another said: "Jumps ride of the season."

While a third Twitter user, using laughing emojis, joked: "Some rodeo that."

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