Tuesday 12 December 2017

Racecourses letting themselves down in treatment of jockeys

First of all, I'll start by saying that just like the Garth Brooks saga of the last week or so, there are far more important issues in the world of horseracing than the one that is going to dominate this page this evening, but that said what is about to be discussed is nothing short of disgraceful.

Only a few weeks ago we carried the story of Kilbeggan charging jockeys 50c for an individual biscuit. Thankfully, after a tweet from David Casey and much uproar from many corners, Kilbeggan changed their tune and offered free tea and biscuits in the weighroom for their following meeting.

Downpatrick were the first major offenders when before Christmas they had no food at all to offer jockeys riding in late races and they improved on that mishap by becoming the first track in Ireland to offer hot food and they now look after the riders very well.

Unfortunately some racecourses still seem to be oblivious to those goings on and on Monday night we had another tweet that left the public dismayed.

Pat Smullen tweeted a picture of the Killarney weighroom price list that jockeys had to pay and also the fact that there was no television in the weighroom for the riders to watch the racing on... Your right, it is disgraceful.


Just look at the prices on the right and tell me if that is fair. Imagine charging a rugby player like Brian O'Driscoll for a bottle of Lucozade in the dressing room of the Aviva for example. It just would not happen.

These lads are walking through the gates of Killarney Racecourse to entertain us but also risk their lives while they do it, surely you could take the price of two or three people going through the turnstiles and provide all of the above for free of charge.

We are talking about jockeys here remember... you are not going to have them taking advanatge of you by eating five or six bars of chocolate or even by having two sandwiches. That is not something that would meet their diet requirements.

Killarney is one of Ireland's most picturesque racecourses and hosts some good racing, but the treating jockeys like this is just not on.

Chief Turf Club Medical Officer Dr Adrian McGoldrick has worked tirelessly for the welfare of the riders in many aspects and nutrition and hydration is one of his big points and it is an insult to his hard work that racecourses would go and charge the lads for this type of stuff.

For a long time now Ruby Walsh and Tony McCoy have spoken about how well jockeys are treated on the British tracks compared to the Irish ones.

And instead of improving on that it appears that some tracks are going backwards and maybe it is time for Horse Racing Ireland to step up to the mark and put their foot down to stop some other racecourse showing themselves up like this.

Indeed, only last weekend Davy Russell took to Twitter to compliment Sligo who have recently upgraded their services for jockeys and also their sauna, while Nina Carberry also compliemented them on installing a television in the ladies changing room which is unfortunately rare in Ireland.

You would expect Killarney to learn their lesson and scrap the prices for jockeys and also find a television for the weighroom but it shouldn't have taken a tweet from a multiple champion jockey for that to be sorted.

Finally, that is only a minor issue compared to the progress being made by jockey Jonjo Bright who on Monday stood into the Esko Bionic Suit which is a wearable suit that enables individuals with lower extremity paralysis to walk over ground with a fully weight bearing reciprocal gait.

And we certainly wish him continued progress.

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