Jockey Katsidis dies of 'drug overdose'

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The Independent Online

The Australian horseracing community was in shock yesterday after one of its leading riders, Stathi Katsidis, 31, was found dead in his Brisbane home. Police are satisfied that there were no suspicious circumstances. Among those mourning Katsidis is his brother, Michael, who is one of the world's top lightweight boxers.

Katsidis had a history of problems with drink and drugs, but had appeared to get his career triumphantly back on track with 171 winners last season, more than any other jockey. He was due to ride his Australian Derby winner, Shoot Out, in the Cox Plate on Saturday and then in the Melbourne Cup on 2 November. He had spent recent days telling friends and colleagues of his excitement at the prospect.

After winning his first Grade One race as a 19-year-old apprentice, Katsidis was frequently in trouble with the authorities. His first drug violations disclosed the use of banned medication to suppress appetite. Early in 2008 he narrowly escaped jail after driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol reading three times over the legal limit. Two months later, he failed a random test for ecstasy and was given a nine-month suspension. Then, as he neared the end of his ban, he suffered a compound leg fracture, which extended his absence to a further 18 months.

Since his return, however, he had appeared to have put his problems behind him, both on and off the track. Melissa Jackson, his fiancée, had helped him to get his diet and weight under control. But the police reportedly expect the autopsy to reveal that Katsidis died of an accidental drug overdose.