Mak­ing Cody’s death count

Jockey’s dad reaches out to pre­vent pain for oth­ers.

Herald on Sunday - - WE SALUTE YOU - By Ophe­lia Buck­le­ton

The fa­ther of a for­mer top jumps jockey, who took his own life, wants to help pre­vent other fam­i­lies from en­dur­ing the loss and pain he is suf­fer­ing.

Cody Singer had a zest for life but, on Au­gust 29, the 26-year-old cut that life short.

Now, Cody’s fa­ther, Philip Singer, wants to con­front sui­cide and stop oth­ers from tak­ing their lives.

“If out of this, there is one per­son who can be reached, one more young life that can be saved or helped, that would be a great thing,” said Singer.

Just three days be­fore his death, Wairarapa-based Cody had a phone con­ver­sa­tion with his dad.

“We were jok­ing and laugh­ing and he seemed his nor­mal self,” said Singer.

“I miss the phone calls from him.” The week be­fore, Cody en­joyed a Sun­day roast at his dad’s house in Levin with his grand­par­ents. He was chatty and bub­bly.

He had just fin­ished his first sea­son as a hunts­man for the Wairarapa Hunt, a job he loved.

In 2014, his suc­cess­ful ca­reer as a jumps jockey, which in­cluded rid­ing 36 wins, came to an un­timely end. Cody was rid­ing Cape Ki­naveral, the same horse he rode to vic­tory in the 2012 Grand Na­tional Steeplechase at Te Rapa Race­course when he had a bad fall.

Cody was knocked out for some time and suf­fered a ma­jor head in­jury. He was ad­vised by doc­tors to stop rid­ing.

“It was the last ma­jor con­cus­sion that he had,” said Singer.

Cody strug­gled with emo­tional and phys­i­cal prob­lems caused by the head in­jury. He had con­cus­sionin­duced de­pres­sion and con­stant headaches.

“He had a lot of head prob­lems, which in­cluded bal­ance prob­lems,” said Singer.

“I don’t think they ever com­pletely came right. He was con­tin­u­ally on med­i­ca­tion.”

On Au­gust 29, Cody was found dead be­hind the sta­bles at the Wairarapa Hunt Club, just out of Master­ton, where he lived.

Cody’s death made Singer re­call a con­ver­sa­tion with his son fel­low jockey took his life.

“He said it was some­thing never do,” Singer said.

“But I think at the end of the day the de­pres­sion and the headaches and every­thing that went along with it just got too much for him.”

Since Cody’s death, Singer and his wife, Jan, have been dis­cussing fund­ing coun­selling for young riders who have suf­fered head in­juries.

“If there’s some­thing we can do — if there’s some way we can fundraise some money to help pay for a coun­sel­lor or just have some­body these young guys can call and sit down and talk with.”

Singer said Cody re­ally ben­e­fited from the coun­selling he had af­ter his fall but they needed to be on­go­ing and in­clude some­one check­ing up on the riders or equip­ping fam­ily mem­bers so they can look for warn­ing signs.

Cody had been rid­ing horses since he was young. af­ter a he’d

At just 12, he started work­ing as a sta­ble hand for Levin trainer Grant Searle, be­fore and af­ter school. It was not long be­fore the tal­ented horse­man be­gan rid­ing track work for Searle.

When he was 14, Cody be­gan work as an ap­pren­tice for well-known trainer Richard Col­lett at his rac­ing sta­bles in Pukekohe. Col­lett spot­ted Cody work­ing for his dad at the year­ling sales.

Singer said his son didn’t par­tic­u­larly like Auck­land, de­spite lov­ing the work.

“He loved the coun­try bet­ter than the city,” Singer said.

Cody spent the last year in the Wairarapa as a hunts­man for the Wairarapa Hunt. And, de­spite the doc­tor’s ad­vice, he con­tin­ued break­ing in horses and do­ing some track work.

“He was ad­vised to stop rid­ing al­to­gether but Cody be­ing Cody and his love for the horses, he couldn’t stop rid­ing com­pletely.

Philip Singer

“He gave up the race-day rid­ing.” Rid­ing as part of the Hunt was one way Cody “could still get his adrenalin rush — in­stead of charg­ing around a race course he was charg­ing round fields jump­ing wire and all sorts of things”, said Singer.

Cody leaves be­hind his dad, mum Michelle, half-brother Shayne, 30, sis­ter Alana, 21, and step par­ents Jan and John.

“We’re sup­port­ing each other; the whole fam­ily is,” said Singer.

“I’m find­ing it a lit­tle bit hard but keep­ing the brain busy is the big thing.”

Singer said he would miss Cody’s smile and friend­ship.

“He was a cheeky lit­tle bug­ger. He had a wicked sense of hu­mour. I said at his fu­neral that he was a mate. He was just a great mate.”

Cody Singer was a top jump jockey, un­til the in­juries from a rid­ing fall changed his life.

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