Can you be an animal activist and still support horse racing? In short, yes.
Racing Victoria has continued their push towards the health, safety and regulation of apprentice jockeys, pushing the minimum riding age up after taking in the details of an independent report.
Under new rulings, jockeys in Victoria won’t be able to take up an apprenticeship until they are at least 16 years old, a one-year increase from the previous mark of 15.
The Victorian Jockeys Association and Australian Trainers Association are both behind the alteration of age limits as well as a handful of other changes made to help improve the current state and process of apprenticeships.
Advising the information gathered from the report conducted by lawyer Peter Randles, Racing Victoria also announced that apprentices wouldn’t be allowed a jockey agent until they had ridden at least 20 winners.
Expressions of interest and applications for apprenticeships will be taken in January of each year from now on for the following year and each rider will be tracked and detailed over that period.
“RV (Racing Victoria) is pleased to announce it has begun implementing these key recommendations outlined in the Randles Report and looks forward to putting these reforms into practice,” said RV’s executive general manager of racing Greg Carpenter.
“It is important that we undertake these reviews on a regular basis in order to ensure that we continue to meet best industry practice.”
These changes are a strong follow-up from initial movements in this area by RV in July of last year, implementing new laws that restricted apprentice riders from racing no more than nine consecutive days down to six.
It’s not just the jockeys who have been impacted either, with new measurements in place for jockey managers.
Those who manage apprentice jockeys will now have to complete a training course run by RV in relation to jockey wellbeing.
Victorian Jockeys’ Association chief executive Matt Hyland has praised the new rulings and believes it will benefit young riders in the long run.
“The VJA welcomes the introduction of these new recommendations to help support apprentice jockeys,” said Hyland.
“It is not only important to foster and nurture their career development while racing, but also just as important to focus on the opportunities available to them in the long-term.”
The Randles Report was commissioned by RV in an attempt to bring new data, knowledge and information to an often overlooked portion of the industry that is the impact being placed on young jockeys.