Yesterday I went into detail regarding last weekend’s races, but there was one other important aspect of racing last Saturday that I want to raise here in a standalone article this week. It never gets any airplay but it really needs to be looked at closely by racing officials in my humble opinion.

What last weekend’s racing taught us yet again is that jockeys should be made to sit for exams when they are re-licensed on a 12-monthly basis. And before their licence is automatically renewed, they should be forced to answer a few questions associated with their occupation. These questions could be added to but some of the questions I would like asked annually when a jockey was sitting for their license renewal examination should be:

1- How many times are you permitted to hit a horse at various stages of the home straight? (If they don’t get it right first go – tell them to go home for a month and research the topic and they would be eligible to re-sit the test in 30 days time).

2-What is the meaning of the word “consecutive” as in “consecutive strides”?

3-How far do you have to be clear of another runner before you are allowed to cross that runner. (You could make it a multiple choice answer to make it easier on them – a) 0.50 length, b) 1.00 length, c) 2.00 lengths, d) 5 lengths, e) none of a, b, c or d.)

4-If they by chance happen to answer question 3 correctly, then they are partly on their way to answering the question. Part b of that question is “now show me how far 2 lengths is” and the assessor could at that point also tell them “please be advised at this point that overstating is better than understating”.

5-If the jockey has questions 1 to 4 inclusive right they may then move to question 5. It reads: Explain in 100 words or less what is meant by “riding your mount out?

6-If they answer questions 1 to 5 inclusive correctly – without cheating – they will have their licence renewed for 12 months.

Last weekend around Australia via stewards reports from the day it’s blatantly apparent that we had more jockeys that obviously just don’t get it. Week in and week out we have numbers of jockeys that have a problem counting the number of hits they give a horse. The jockey to lose count as an adult mustn’t have been concentrating when they were at school – as they should have learnt to count at least from one to ten in Grade 1 – if they were in fact paying attention. Some in adulthood when they are riding a horse out with the shillelagh must count something like “one, two, three, four, five, what am I going to buy Betty for Christmas, oh (expletive) where was I up to with this counting. Ah stuff it, it’s too late”. I mean if “champion jockeys” like Hughie Bowman has a problem being “two lengths clear”, like stewards reported in their Race 5 Kensington stewards report, well honestly what hope does the little 46-kilo green apprentice jockey possibly have? How come he doesn’t understand “two lengths clear” It’s not exactly rocket science. Later on in the same Kensington stewards report from last Saturday, Bowman was in strife again when stewards told him that “in similar circumstances he would be expected to stop riding and straighten his mount.” Again when did he forget that one?

Down in old Melbourne town last Saturday, another “champion jockey” – this time Glen Boss – had to be reminded by stewards after he rode Gottino in Race 4 to ride his mounts out to the line “hands and heels to the end of the race”. He got fined $200 (in words that’s two hundred) over not riding Gottino out. Wonder when he forgot that rule? Surely a jockey forgetting to ride a horse out is a bit like a “champion” tennis player forgetting how to serve, or a “champion” soccer player forgetting that he has to actually get the ball in the net to score a goal. I mean surely to God certain things connected with one’s occupation are simply taken as read?

Can someone in authority in the thoroughbred racing industry please advise me exactly what a deterrent $200 would be for a bloke like Boss? I can’t sort of get my head around what financial impost $200 would be on the bloke.

And to show that good sized big meaty fines can actually work in thoroughbred racing, it was well documented that “champion trainer” Gai Waterhouse originally got fined a total of $7,000 for not telling stewards that More Joyous had had some issues before a race earlier this year. In grain fed thoroughbred vernacular Gai got “a bit fizzy” at the time she got fined $5,000 on one charge then $2,000 on a later charge – but you see she obviously understands the way the world works a whole lot clearer nowadays, as in the Race 7 Kensington stewards report from last Saturday it reads: “Trainer Mrs G Waterhouse reported to the stewards that Dream Empress sustained an abrasion to the hip in the float returning from the beach yesterday morning. A veterinary examination of Dream Empress when it arrived on course passed the mare fit to start.” Good girl Gai – you see she’s now going to the stewards – not the other way around. That $7,000 worth of fines, whilst it was a tax deduction is better off in Gai’s pocket than anywhere else, whereas that lousy $200 fine incurred by Boss wouldn’t even buy his kid a new Tonka truck with all the bells and whistles for Christmas from that calorie enhanced fat slob and poser – “Santa”.

I reckon if stewards imposed a far more financially debilitating and meaningful fine of a minimum of $1,000 on any jockey for a misdemeanour like cutting another jockey’s water off during a race when not two lengths clear, or not riding a horse out, or failing to be able to count to 10, etcetera, that that would be terrific for the industry. If a little 50-kilo bundle of joy can’t make the weight that he or she accepted a ride for – I’d fine them $1,000. Any backchat, then up the ante and make the fine $1,500. Any backchat in rugby league they get marched another 10 metres. It’s so easy to implement higher fines that it defies belief, but stewards won’t do it. The Australian Racing Board and the control body of thoroughbred racing in each respective State need to get on top of these current pathetic sized fines.

The police, via State government approval, regularly raise fines for humanoid rule breaches of dangerous acts like speeding, etcetera, so why don’t jockeys fines go up significantly? Fining a jockey who may even be a multi-millionaire $200 for serious racing infringements like cutting another jockey off in a race is surely the joke of the sporting world in 2013, as Blind Freddie would know that cutting a fellow jockey off can lead to a nasty fall – and another one of those wondrous Appeals – that we seem to have far too regularly in this caper. Similarly a jockey not riding a horse out could potentially cost a punter a $50,000 First 4 dividend, the end result being that the punter gets to lose a $50,000 dividend – and that $50,000 could have potentially set him or her up for life – and yet the jockey walks away either scott free or gets fined some ridiculous amount like $200, albeit in the Boss case from last Saturday stewards did say they “had some doubt as to whether his (Boss) actions had affected the placings”. My retort to that garbage is: well if you had “some doubt” why raise the topic in the first place”. I mean put simply, he either did ride it out or he didn’t ride it out – there is no middle ground on such a serious allegation. It’s a bit like a horse being “mildly lame” – it’s either lame or not lame. Or a filly or mare being “possibly in season” – again she is either in season, or she’s not in season, she can’t be partly in season.

I’ll bet you any money you like that jockeys would remember what weight they are supposed to ride at the following week, how far two lengths was, how many times they can hit a horse, what the word “consecutive” means, and how to ride a horse out – if fines started at $1,000 for breaches of these rules – whereas the current pathetic fine in today’s money terms of an amount like $200 is only slightly more than the jockey gets paid for one solitary losing riding fee on a “slower than wet week” cat at 100/1 at Marble Bar.

And still on the subject of jockeys, I had to laugh at this particular one in the Kensington report from last Saturday that read: “App. S Lisnyy, rider of Done Nothin’ Wrong, was reprimanded for applying pressure for some distance rounding the first turn to Capital Commander in order to take that runner onto the rails behind the leader…….” How interesting I found that one, as I sincerely hope stewards swoop on the next senior jockey that enforces that exact same trick on an apprentice. I watch plenty of tapes and I’d swear senior jockeys do it to each other daily and moreover they do it all the time to apprentices, yet it rarely gets written up. Hello.

Today on there is the second montage of photos from Hong Kong the other day. On there’s the latest harness racing stories from New South Wales, whilst on Matt Nicholls looks at Victorian racing.

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