Champion trainer Gary White has lashed the senior Tasmanian jockeys involved in Sunday’s strike over the permission given to two apprentices to begin their race riding careers.
Sunday’s Devonport meeting was thrown into chaos when eight senior hoops decided against riding after not being consulted before the apprentices – Taylor Johnstone and Tayah Stalker – were given the green light to start their careers, reports Racing.com.
Just one senior jockey, Dianne Parish, decided to ride.
The young hoops had been cleared by apprentice coach Stephen Maskiell, but in Tasmania senior hoops are also consulted on apprentices’ readiness to race ride.
However, White questioned the jockeys’ motives, while adding both Johnstone and Stalker had shown incredible mental toughness to ride on Sunday despite the drama.
Johnstone finished fifth and third at her two rides, while Stalker won at her debut aboard Trojan Storm in the Benchmark 60 over 1150 metres.
“You have to start thinking ‘Is this a bit of jealousy from others that think these kids are going to take rides off us’? I don’t know,” White said.
“For me it was unfair, unjust, discriminative and unwarranted. Those senior riders have to live with themselves.
“Leon Wells, who has had some really good apprentices, ticked off on his (Johnstone). Then you have Cameron (Thompson) with Tayah and she’s had over 80 trials.
“She’s ridden in trials against these senior jockeys where they aren’t accountable for their actions. And they were prepared to ride against them in trials, but not in races?”
White said it is important to note the mental toll Sunday’s situation would have had on both riders.
“Could you imagine the night or two before and this girl is going to have her ride and she’s heard all this negativity?” he said.
“For her (Stalker) to come out and win (was amazing).
“But this should have been all done behind closed doors without any of them (the apprentices) being aware of what’s happening.
“Could you imagine the mental pressure on them going to the races (and feeling like people didn’t believe they could ride safely)?”
White said the situation is particularly close to his heart as he helped guide both into the industry.
“I gave them the spiel on what it can offer them as a career choice,” White said.
“I felt sick in the guts and embarrassed when I heard what was going to happen.”
The Tasmanian branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association was due to meet on Tuesday night to discuss the situation.
Speaking to Racing.com on Monday, the Tasmanian Jockeys’ Association’s Kevin Ring said the ‘biggest issue is the lack of consultation’ before permission was granted.
“It is nothing against the kids coming through, but it is more about their safety and that of their fellow jockeys,” Ring said.
“Over the years, or for a lot of years at least, senior jockeys have always been consulted on the apprentices’ readiness to ride in races.
“They are the ones out there riding with them, so they have the best look at things.
“This time the process was ignored. The jockeys had spoken to the chief steward a fortnight ago, but nothing seemed to happen. Then, last Tuesday, I sent an email to Tasmanian Racing and the stewards on consultation, but we got no response.
“On Wednesday, when the race fields were about to come out, I got an email from the stewards saying the young riders have been approved.
“At the moment we are working with the racing director and the stewards from Tasracing about putting in a written policy. It has been the norm for years until now.
“From what I gather, the jockeys will ride (on Sunday) but I have drafted something this morning that has gone to the racing director at TasRacing and the CEO and we are hoping to meet Wednesday to put it all together.
“We are also looking at policies in WA and SA as they have similar things in place.”