Critically injured jockey Taiki Yanagida's mother is rushing from Japan to be near her son's side as he fights for his life in Waikato Hospital.
The 28-year-old jockey was badly hurt in a racing accident at Cambridge on Wednesday when his mount, Te Atatu Pash, fell. Yanagida was placed in an induced coma at the track and transported by ambulance to Waikato Hospital.
He was diagnosed with brain and spinal injuries, and while he was initially going to be flown to Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland, doctors decided against that.
Yanagida remained in an induced coma on Thursday afternoon with scans being conducted on his brain, while he could also have an operation to stabilise his spinal cord.
Yanagida was born and raised in Japan, only learning to ride at 18 and moving to New Zealand to start an apprenticeship with trainers Andrew Scott and Lance O'Sullivan, the latter one of New Zealand's greatest ever jockeys.
Yanagida's mother Kayano is being flown from her home in Kyoto to Auckland and is expected to arrive on Friday morning, with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing assisting her to make the trip.
Yanagida's close friend and fellow Japanese jockey Yuto Kumagai, who, like Yanagida, lives in Matamata, has been the contact for Yanagida's mother, who does not speak English.
"We are very upset for her and for Taiki and all we can do is pray," says Kumagai.
"He is my close friend and has taught me so much and looked after me here.
"He is very tough but it was not a good fall so it a very hard time for all of us. I hope people pray for him because he needs our help."
Yanagida had a personal best season last term, riding 42 winners to finish equal 15th on the national premiership.
"That is simply down to hard work," says O'Sullivan.
"Taiki came to use without much riding experience but worked very, very hard at his job and kept getting better.
"Part of that is because of his extreme dedication to his fitness. Being quite tall for a jockey he never shirks doing the hard work running he needs to and is a bit of a fitness fanatic.
"He is a good young man, a really hard worker around the stables when he was our apprentice and even though things were quite grim up at the hospital today we are hoping for the best."
Yanagida, known to almost everybody in the industry as Tiger, has ridden 162 winners in New Zealand including five at the elite black type level.
He rode Rusavy to win race five at Wednesday's meeting, just two hours before the accident.