Apprentice jockeys deserve more and deserve better
The most disappointing aspect of the row over the new plan for apprentice jockeys’ prize money and riding fees share is that the hopes of four aspiring jockeys of joining Andrew Balding’s yard next year have been dashed.
The Kingsclere master has informed the four would-be apprentices that he can no longer offer them employment because of the new rules brokered by the BHA. They deserve better.
Whereas, as apprentice jockeys, they would have received up to 50% of their prize-money and riding fees, with the trainer paying their expenses, the new rules entitle them to at least 80% but they would be responsible for their own expenses.
The new plan is coming into force next March because the Professional Jockeys Association had declared the present situation unsatisfactory as there were trainers who were not abiding by the rules. The PJA sought help from the BHA because negotiations with the National Trainers Federation failed to make progress.
It seems to be too much for Balding to stand, if not financially, then tolerably.
Balding (pictured) wrote to the BHA accusing them of taking trainers for “fools” and saying that the sport’s governing body had “seriously underestimated” the solidarity of trainers. In his stand on the matter, he’s been joined by Mick Easterby, Richard Fahey and Richard Hannon.
He has not been joined by all-weather champion trainer Mick Appleby.
Appleby said “It’s about time they made the changes and I don’t see why they shouldn’t get more of the riding fees – they deserve it.
“They’re putting their necks on the line and riding the same as any other jockey in a race, so why then does the trainer get half?”
Indeed, while apprentice jockeys are exposed to the same risks as other riders, they can often provide an owner and trainer with extra value through their weight allowance. Many is the winner of a handicap due to the weight taken off through a claim.
Appleby believes some trainers have overreacted, saying “A lot of the bigger yards who have the most apprentices charge a lot more training fees than someone like me and will be making a bit on that, so why do they need to make anything from the lads as well?”
There was a robust defence of the plan from BHA chair Annamarie Phelps.
“There were a significant number of trainers who were not paying their apprentice jockeys expenses. I know people have said they’re not vulnerable, but actually they are.
“We made the best decision. We discussed it for a very long time, we pushed back very much on both sides and decided to approve this.”
Phelps went on to say, “There is a power imbalance always between young people coming in and powerful trainers.”
That power imbalance means that four young people won’t be coming in – at least not with Andrew Balding.
Your weekly round-up to the week’s big racing stories http://wp.me/s8e3Dl-12032