04/28/2013 7:02PM

Delta Downs: Exercise rider, Quarter Horse die during training accident

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Jess Meche, a former Quarter Horse jockey working as a freelance exercise rider in Louisiana, died instantly April 11 along with the horse he was working, trainer Heath Taylor confirmed Sunday. The incident happened at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., and Meche’s death was also confirmed Sunday by the track’s director of racing, Chris Warren. Meche was 21.

“Both died instantaneously,” Taylor said. 

Taylor trained the horse Meche was working, Czech Revolution, a 2-year-old Quarter Horse preparing for his career debut. The work was conducted during one of several night training sessions that Delta, which races under the lights, had offered to familiarize horses with night-racing conditions. Czech Revolution dropped dead, Taylor said, from what he believes was either a heart attack or aneurysm. Meche died on the track, at 9:30 p.m., said Warren.

Meche is a Louisiana native whose father, Robert Meche, is an owner and trainer. Meche’s first win as a Quarter Horse jockey came at Louisiana Downs on Feb. 9, 2010. He rode 121 races and compiled a record of 3 wins, 8 seconds, and 17 thirds, according to Daily Racing Form statistics. Meche was most recently an exercise rider who worked on the Louisiana circuit, said Taylor.

Taylor, who has known Meche for five years, was an honorary pallbearer during Meche’s funeral Mass in Rayne, La., on April 15.

“We lost a tremendous individual,” Taylor said Sunday. “He was a very dear friend of mine, a very good person. You’d never meet a happier, more vibrant person.

“It certainly doesn’t help anyone as far as the pain of the loss, [but] you had to be around him to know how much he loved working a horse. He was doing what he loved more than anything in the world when it happened.”

Taylor said aside from Louisiana, Meche spent time riding races in Canada. He said Meche was also a champion rodeo competitor in high school. Meche was a member of the Louisiana High School Rodeo Association, as well as some Quarter Horse breeding and racing associations, according to an obituary from Gossen Funeral Home in Rayne, La.

Meche is survived by his parents, Robert and Annette, sisters Robi, Myke and Kasie, and brother, Robert, II.