Red Tape Holding Back Jockey’s Aussie Dreams

By: Ryan Clark
July 6th, 2011

Hoi Man Yu is one of the thousands of unknown members of the racing community which the industry is built upon.

Without the likes of him working as a stablehand the glory, prestige and wealth enjoyed by those in the upper echelon just wouldn’t be possible.

That’s not to say it’s where he wants to stay though, far from it, he sees himself as the next big thing in the Australian jockey ranks.

The former Hong Kong national has been in the country for two years studying at TAFE while he earns his stripes as a track work rider.

He’s based with the Webster team and diligently gets up at 3:30am every morning and never misses a beat with his horses on track.

It extends further than that though, he also cleans stables, grooms horses and takes pride in keeping both the horses and facilities in top shape.

He’s the type of worker every trainer would love to have around their stable, but red tape may see the now 22 year old forced out of the country altogether.

“It is very hard but I don’t want to give up, I want to do my family proud and become a jockey,” he said yesterday.

“I’m doing everything I can and will keep trying.”

‘Man’ as he’s known is here on a student visa which is due to run out in November.

The Government currently does not offer any visa option for people who study as an apprentice jockey.

His options seem slim but thankfully Maurice Logue from Racing NSW has picked up his case and is trying to work through alternative measures.

His application for a Standard Business Sponsorship (457) visa has stalled so they’re now looking at getting an Occupational Trainee visa (442).

“We have a skilled worker shortage state-wide and we need some relief from the government,” Logue said.

Immigration expert Frank Donatiello says it’s a very tricky bureaucratic minefield to overcome.

“The way the laws are structured you have to nominate an occupation that is on a gazetted list and apprentice jockeys are not on that list,” he said.

“It is becoming very difficult, especially when you try to get a visa for an apprentice.”

Man has a background in racing back home where his father is a trainer and his uncle a track work rider at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

He tried to pursue his craft there but was considered too old and too tall to join the apprentice school.

As a result he decided to pack up shop and move everything to Australia where he saw the most opportunities.

“I first started working with Tommy Wong at Hawkesbury because he is a friend of my father’s and it was close to the TAFE course at Richmond,” Yu said.

“Before I came to Australia I had barely touched a horse.

“I have learnt everything I know here and I am very grateful. I was just living in the stables at Hawkesbury and then I moved to be with Jim and Greg Lee at Randwick because there was more work for me here.

“I was living in the stables and that is how I met Mr (Pat) Webster. He asked me what I wanted to do, I told him I wanted to be an apprentice and he has been helping me.”

Webster himself has said he would like to take on Man as an apprentice rider for his stable and has accompanied both Yu and Logue to Canberra to try and help him with his case.

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