There’s no doubt the recent decision to increase the minimum weights for jockeys from 53kg to 54kg has caused a lot of conjecture among racing industry stakeholders.
Some riders are fantastically for the decision while others are passionately against it.
The increase will be implemented by the Australian Racing Board on January 1st next year and is designed to limit the requirements for extreme dieting and dangerous wasting in saunas.
Overall it seems the move has received more support than opposition but that doesn’t extend to the ranks of the traditional lightweights.
They’re worried their ‘niche market’ is under threat and that their competitive advantage could be taken away.
Leading the opposition is top level jockey Corey Brown who says he’s far from impressed with the ARB’s decision.
“I know people’s structures are getting bigger and everything like that but it is the job, if you want to be a jockey you have to be small,” he said.
“If your too big to be in the game, I’m sorry. I don’t agree with the decision at all.
“All the people they say are going to benefit are the blokes that don’t ride 54kg anyway, whether the weights go up from 53 to 54 there not going to be benefit, if anything they will lose because the top weight will be 60kg and people will be more inclined to put apprentices on.”
In the other corner is Jim Cassidy, he represents a larger pool of riders who are embracing the changes and says that it will take some of the day to day strain off their bodies.
“I think it is a good thing, it will make it a little easier for everyone,” he said.
“I sweat every day, today is Sunday, I’m riding Tuesday and I’m already wasting. It is a constant battle to ride that weight, I know in every walk of life there are sacrifices, I’ve been doing it for a long time, it is about time that they went up.”
Josh Parr is another rider who constantly battles to stay in shape and he took to Twitter to voice his frustrations at people opposing the move.
“To all you whingers making a fuss about the weights being raised come spend a week in my life. Then ask if you could do it full-time,” he said.
The ARB is standing by their decision on the basis that it is in the best interest of jockeys from a health standpoint.
Chief of the ARB Andrew Harding said it comes off the back of extensive research conducted by their medical officer Caron Jander.
“She looked at the issue pretty closely and felt that there were a number of health risks that are higher for jockeys than the rest of the general population,” he said.
“She links that to making weight and she felt that increasing the weights would reduce some of those health risks that a section, not all riders, are exposed too.”
Glyn Schofield is somewhat of a middleman in the debate. While as recently as last weekend he was unable to reach 53kg and lost a ride, he also sees the need for the lightweights to keep their place in the industry.
“It allows the heavier jocks to have an advantage over the lighter guys, everyone is going to have a different view,” he said.
“Whether it is right or wrong I am not really sure.
“But there has got to be a time when we ask how high will it go? There has to be a limit to how high they rise the minimum, pretty soon everyone will be able to become a jockey.”