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JOCKEYS’ MENTAL HEALTH IN SPOTLIGHT IN NEW SHORT FILM  

The Fall, a powerful short film focusing on the mental health of jockeys is due to start filming in December.  The film has been written by Equine Productions’ Visual Director Nathan Horrocks, who will co-direct the feature with Cold Feet star Robert Bathurst. The film centres around how a jockey has to deal with the suffocating aftermath of a high-profile fall at a final fence.

The announcement comes on World Suicide Prevention Day, which aims to provide a worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides.

The Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust is the film’s title sponsor with other financial backing coming from the Professional Jockeys’ Association and the mental health charity Even Keel Foundation.

Nathan Horrocks says: “This film is a real passion project. The idea came to me a number of years ago following my own battle with mental health. Losing friends like James Banks, Dean Crossman, Michael Curran and recently Liam Treadwell, gave me the drive finish writing the film. I would like to thank The Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust, our title sponsor, The PJA and The Even Keel foundation for believing in me and funding the film. I am extremely excited that Robert Bathurst is going to be part our journey, bringing his wealth of experience to the production will help us show the audience what these athletes endure. We are all human, sometimes that gets lost in the result.” 

Nigel Payne, Trustee and Administrator of The Peter O’Sullevan Charitable Trust said: “When Nathan contacted me about The Fall it was very opportune timing; Peter’s Trustees had just agreed that the issue of mental health would become a priority as far as we concerned. Therefore, to become the title sponsor of this film fits perfectly with our objectives. Peter would have been delighted.”

Paul Struthers, CEO of the Professional Jockeys Association, said: “Nathan first shared the script with me a year ago and it was incredibly powerful.  We quickly agreed to support the film financially and I’m thrilled its now fully funded and that Robert Bathurst is involved in the project. The issue of mental wellbeing is very personal to me as it is for Nathan and with Sam from Even Keel Foundation, and we know it’s a significant issue for our membership.  The Fall fits in perfectly with our mental health strategy, complementing what we’re already doing and the enhancements we will be making over the coming months to our wellbeing provision.  It can also serve to continue helping us break down the stigma and continue to try to create an environment where talking about how we feel, accepting that it’s okay not to be okay and utilising the support that the PJA provides its member is normal.”

Samantha Hillier, chairman, founder and trustee of the Even Keel Foundation, said:As soon as I read the film script l knew this was a project that the Even Keel Foundation would be keen to support. It’s positioning in raising awareness for mental health and its inherent message of it being ‘okay not to be okay’ is just so perfectly aligned with the message that we are continually trying to project, particularly amongst men. All too often men still bottle-up how they feel and resist the temptation to talk through fear of it making them appear in some way weak. We feel sure this film will go a long way to breaking down that stigma and help make anyone watching it more aware of the impact their actions and words can have on someone else’s mental wellbeing. Nathan has done such a fantastic job with the script – really tackling the issues surrounding mental health for athletes head on – and we are delighted to offer our support.” 

Robert Bathurst, who plays David Marsden in popular ITV1 series Cold Feet, said:This project appeals because it is being made by racing industry insiders who have a deep personal understanding of the issues raised. The production company, Equine Productions, makes high-quality documentary films and this is the first time they have used actors. My job is to collaborate with the director Nathan Horrocks and work with the actors to bring out the drama. All followers of racing have been shocked by the recent sad events involving jockeys, trainers and stable staff; mental health problems in the industry are now more widely discussed and there is a greater awareness of their causes. This film is part of that campaign.” 

The film is expected to be released in early 2021.