The turf season is just around the corner ...

The apprentice system

Monday, 10 July 2017

"The scholar does not consider gold and jade to be precious treasures, but loyalty and good faith."




It's a warm sunny  morning and after a very clear sky at five o'clock we are now getting high clouds rolling in. There are thunderstorms forecast for later on and a bit more general rain tomorrow. We certainly need a constant and steady downpour. It's been a good morning so far with everybody in and working well. I gave tomorrow's runners a pipe opener on the Rubbing House and the majority of the other horses have been cantering on Southfields Round.


Gee Sixty Six

Both runners on Saturday failed to make the frame but they ran with reasonable promise. The ground was too firm for Velvet Voice who wouldn't let herself down. Dot Green travelled really well and, although it was a good race, we may go back to seven furlongs. We have three runners tomorrow and two on Wednesday. I think we are not far off having a burst of  pleasing runners. By the way what a fantastic race the Eclipse was on Saturday at Sandown. Although there were a few hard luck stories, the two that drew clear produced an extremely exciting finish.


Bracken Brae

There is an article today on apprentice jockeys and how they are being supposedly exploited by trainers. There are plenty of pros and cons with the apprentice system and I have always thought something needed doing about it. We have very few young jockeys coming along and without doubt there needs to be a good shake-up. The author of today's piece seems to think it's all about finance and how the apprentices don't claim their expenses. This is easily got round, but most of them share cars which leads to plenty of problems when producing reciepts.

The major point he fails to comment on is that a lot of apprentices now days have their licence attached to one trainer but don't work in the yard. This problem needs thinking outside the box and whether the way forward is to have them all called jockeys with their own licences (allowances would still be claimed up to a certain number of winners, age no barrier). Then trainers would only pay them if and when they rode any work, or if and when they worked in the yard. Everybody would get full fees and they would pay their own expenses. There would be no cry of being exploited then. Sadly I think in reality the trainers who give apprentices rides would very quickly diminish.

This last paragraph would certainly sort the financial side out but would it help them progress and learn? The jockeys' coaches are a good initiative but the trainers are the ones who educate them about all aspects of racing. Being keen and ambitious is admirable but you cannot run - or ride - before you can walk. Gaining experience and profile is not always about finance. There is a saying, "In the business world everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later."



Another thought provoking article today is whether in foal runners should be declared or not. You can go on and on about what information should be available to the public and I think this is one of those situations that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.