NSW Apprentices Leading The Way

By: Ryan Clark
December 9th, 2011

We’ve had a steady flow of stories all year in regards to the sensational performances of apprentices in the country with many coming out of New South Wales.

Just this week we highlighted how Chad Schofield had ridden out his 3kg claim and looked destined for big things.

Now though our suspicions have been confirmed, the current crop of apprentices in New South Wales are a special breed.

The annual report from Racing NSW shows in black and white the difference in numbers from now to this time last year.

In the 2009 / 2010 season apprentices accounted for 1584 of all winners across the state.

Last season that number jumped to an amazing 2104.

Chief steward of Racing NSW Ray Murrihy says it’s a pleasing discovery.

“The figures simply don’t lie: we have a very good bunch of apprentices in NSW racing,” Murrihy said.

“The apprentices are getting about 30 per cent of all rides in NSW and I do think Benchmark racing has had a bit to do with that.

“A lot of races are weighted on a higher scale and trainers are looking to get weight off the backs of the better-performed horses and this is giving apprentices more opportunities.”

In further good news for the state the number of whip related suspension have been slashed by a huge 60 percent.

Murrihy believes this has had a flow on effect to the reduction in careless riding suspensions as well.

“The fact that jockeys are using the whip less in races now means that they can exercise better control of their mounts under pressure,” he said.

“The jockeys have adapted to the new whip rules. If there is a bad breach now, it is very isolated, whereas it was commonplace when the rules started in August, 2009.

“When the rule was first introduced, jockeys didn’t practice riding to them up to the deadline date as they thought they could just change overnight.

“But they found out in the heat of battle that it wasn’t that easy. We went through a period there when we had a lot of suspensions, but we have worked through that now.”

Last season there were a mere 31 suspension applied for whip related offences, that number tarnished somewhat by the record five week ban given to Jim Cassidy when he blatantly disregarded the laws twice on the same card only a month ago.

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