THE Southside racetrack was a sombre place yesterday.
Despite the loss of friend and mentor Desiree Gill, horses still needed to be worked and fed.
Gympie jockey Billie-Rose Derbyshire was one of many who has passed on condolences to Mrs Gill's husband Barry.
She said she owed her career to Mrs Gill.
"I wouldn't be a jockey if it wasn't for Des," Miss Derbyshire said.
"I came here when I was 17 years old, weighing just 38kg, and she gave me a go."
Many believed Miss Derbyshire was too small and wouldn't be strong enough to handle the horses but Mrs Gill saw something in her.
"She paid me out of her own wage and taught me everything I know."
Miss Derbyshire said Mrs Gill would do anything to help young riders, even giving up a winning ride.
"The first horse I rode in a race Des had ridden and won on it," Miss Derbyshire said.
"She got off it to give me a ride.
"She would do anything to help apprentices.
"And, she was the toughest person I know."
Trainer Kerry Munce's stable is next to the Gill one.
Mr Munce is still coming to terms with Mrs Gill's death.
"It's hard to accept ... hard to believe," Mr Munce said.
It was always tragic when the industry lost a jockey but when it was someone you normally saw every day, it was a "body blow", he said.
"She will be missed by plenty of people in the industry.
"She was a Gympie icon."
Queensland Jockeys Association president Glen Prentice described Mrs Gill as a much-loved figure of the country and regional racing community.
"She was a great mentor to a lot of young apprentices in the country - her and her husband," he said.
"Someone was just telling me a story that at race meetings, they called her 'mum'.
"She had that personal touch.
"It's hit a lot of (jockeys) hard."
Racing Queensland has begun an investigation into the fall, which happened early in the fifth race and resulted in the rest of the meeting being abandoned.
The inquiry was expected to take several weeks but Mr Prentice said early evidence suggested it was simply an unfortunate accident.
It is believed Celtic Ambition clipped the horse in front of her, throwing Mrs Gill to the track.