Top jockey Damien Oliver has told of his struggle to find rides for this weekend’s meet at Moonee Valley.
Oliver has received just one offer for the day; however, it is not expected to be within the jockey’s 54 kilogram weight range.
The senior Melbourne rider is just one of many who are suffering from the current trend of using apprentice jockeys.
The use of apprentice jockeys is becoming more and more popular, with owners and trainers choosing to claim extra weight rather than use the more experienced riders.
“Once the top weight claims, it’s a domino effect,” Oliver said.
“If you can’t ride the limit weight, you are going to struggle for rides.
“It’s not just me. A number of good jockeys are getting one or two rides a Saturday or none.”
Oliver’s manager, Mark Van Triet, said that things were worse during the winter racing season.
“Traditionally, Melbourne trainers use apprentices in the winter,” Van Triet said.
“If you are a senior rider, you need a stable to feed off.
“Last week (at Moonee Valley), Damien was going to ride Rue Maple on 54.5kg, but they decided to claim.
“That’s when you realise how hard it is to get rides.”
Oliver rode three winners at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney last weekend after accepting an offer from Chris Waller to ride his horses.
“It was a good window. A few riders were away and suspended,” Oliver said.
While Sydney trainer Waller has made it clear he does not plan on employing a full time stable jockey, Oliver said that he would readily consider it should it ever be made an option.
“I’ve got no plans for the future, but if I got an offer it would be hard to knock back,” he said.
While many senior riders chose to take time off during the winter, Oliver is hoping to optimise his fitness for the spring carnival.
“I’ll be riding through, trying to get momentum into the spring,” Oliver said.