Mick Easterby: 'It will be much harder to convince owners to use apprentices'
Trainer Mick Easterby responds to the new arrangements over payment for apprentice jockeys
It was with some incredulity that I read about the new financial arrangements for apprentices that were announced last week by the BHA. In my opinion it will be apprentices who will suffer because they will get less opportunities.
How can an owner be expected to put a young rider on their horse when for the same fee they could put up one of the leading jockeys? It doesn't make sense but the BHA doesn't seem to realise that.
If they feel it is so wrong for trainers to take 50 per cent of the riding fee then why not ensure that the 50 per cent goes back to the owners? I have a horse that is owned by four lads who can only just afford it, so when it runs I ask them if they would like to put up one of my apprentices and they can keep my 50 per cent.
Young footballers play alongside established stars but receive a fraction of their wages. The BHA wants inexperienced lads to receive nearly the same fee as Ryan Moore or Frankie Dettori, and they will then be left scratching their heads as to why fewer apprentices are being given rides.
Believe me, it isn't easy persuading owners to put up apprentices at the moment but it is going to be much harder in the future, although the savvy apprentices could decide to give back some of their fee in order to secure rides.
I always keep a horse or two for my apprentices to ride, but I am unlikely to do so in the future. I have always enjoyed bringing on apprentices but I fear that it isn't going to be viable in the future.
Contrary to what most people seem to think, I don't make any money out of them – anyone is welcome to examine my books if they don't believe me – so I doubt I'll keep any horses especially for them to ride in the future. If the BHA want to send me one or two to give them much-needed experience they are welcome to do so.
It takes at least two years for most apprentices to become accomplished jockeys, and experience and education are the key ingredients. One ride a month does not do them any good, they need to be riding regularly. I usually sit my apprentices down and watch replays so I can show them what they did wrong, that's the only way they'll learn.
They also learn many other aspects of racing, such as how to saddle up or declare horses, so if they don't make the grade as riders they can still work in racing. The sport needs everyone it can get.
Most people seem to forget that when my apprentices go racing I still pay them. How many other workers would still get their full wages if they took a day off to go and work for someone else?
The BHA doesn't train apprentices, it relies on people like me to do that for it. I would love to know what plans it has made if after its new rules come into force there is a shortage of trainers prepared to take on that task.
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