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Jockeys – No Easy Ride During Lockdown

Kirra Kotzen makes a plea on behalf of our riders

Kirra Kotzen has taken the initiative (Pic – Woodhill Racing)

A Business Communication postgraduate student at UCT, Kirra Kotzen hails from a family steeped in racing from a breeding, riding and training perspective over many decades.

Glen and Kathi Kotzen’s eloquent 23 year old daughter told the Sporting Post that she has spent plenty of time during her online studies at Woodhill Racing Estate mulling over the plight of, and impact on, the various stakeholders in the game after a devastating 55 days of lockdown.

“I have passed some of the time pondering over how each stakeholder segment has been effected. While owners, trainers and grooms have received some support and media exposure, it has alarmed me that the difficulties faced by many of our jockeys have not  received much attention. I know first hand of many of our riders who are undergoing really trying circumstances and it’s a generally held perception that the jockeys are often seen to be bulletproof and are judged on their tough competitive exteriors.”

With the blessing and support of the Coastal Jockeys Association, Kirra has initiated a fundraising drive via backabuddy.

“Government faces challenges and demands from all directions and while I am aware that applications have been initiated for support for our jockeys through the sports channels, I don’t think we have the time to sit on our hands and hope things will just get better. I really hope that Sporting Post readers will take the time to watch the video clip. It’s an eye-opener. If anybody is able, every R1 counts and will make a difference,” she added.

Kirra thanked Andrew Bon and Gavin Pickford for assistance in the compilation of the video clip,

In a nutshell, the Save our Jocks Campaign aims to provide South African Jockeys with funds to relieve any financial strain caused by COVID-19.

This will be the best Bet you have ever placed – please consider backing our jockeys.

Click here to read more and watch some of our jockeys speak

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26 comments on “Jockeys – No Easy Ride During Lockdown

  1. Vassie says:

    Please take the money and help the poor tell 90%of jockeys sell the porche and help the other 10%

    1. Editor says:

      Vassie, just to clarify that this drive is intended to help those jockeys who are in dire need.
      We have been contacted by families in serious need of assistance over the past few days and have reached out to various industry entities to render assistance. Let’s respect the initiative and the dignity of those facing genuine hardship.

  2. Anon says:

    Please can you name me one jockey in South Africa that drives a Porsche? 🤔

  3. MJ says:

    there are some that don’t have petrol money to get to work the same horse you will want to bet on soon. Just saying.

  4. Hilton witz says:

    Maybe they should apply to the trainers remuneration fund and see if they can help…Its based only in natal and has been deducting money off trainers winning cheques for decades …Mr editor no word from shaheen on whether he resigned or fired ?

    1. Editor says:

      Not yet Hilton

    2. Editor says:

      Hi Hilton ..SHaheen confirms he resigned out of sheer frustration 🙂

  5. Tex L says:

    Great initiative – Thank you Kirra – you are blessed

  6. AJ The Jet Plane says:

    Would you know if she will be delving into other areas and assisting with some of the following initiatives such as:
    1. Save Our Owner
    2. Save Our Punter

    The two key players that always get the short-end of the stick.

    R950 a ride and 10% of stake earnings and still struggling for petrol money?
    Hmmm…

  7. Anthony Destombes says:

    Vassie vassie…. pathetic comment to say the least. Not one Jockey I know drives a Porsche! And why should he sell his “Porsche” to help others? He’s worked hard for what he has, no business man sells his car or possessions to fund the needy. I’m pretty sure those in a better position would donate to the Jocks in need….. if you got nothing positive to say about a positive initiative 🤐

  8. Ronnie says:

    Why don’t the RA come out and help the Jockeys .Everybody is put to rescue PGL were people never ran it well
    These people that came out to rescue PGL got to remember that without the Jockeys there will be no racing .So I think the RA should come forward and help .

  9. Noel says:

    I received the link last night from my trainer Robbie Hill who may I add, has been exceptional during this lockdown, by constantly communicating with us owners and making every effort to assist owners where possible during this difficult time. I will make a contribution today to for the jockeys, as I am well aware of certain jockeys that really don’t even have food in there homes let alone petrol to go and work.However, I have also made a final decision with regards to my future in racing. If racing does not continue on the 1st June, I will call an end to horse racing once and for all. I currently own four horses two with Robbie and two are on the farm which is where they will all retire. Very sad day to make these decisions, but one cannot say that it has not been on the cards for many a frustrated owner. You cannot continue to support a industry that has no respect or support in every aspect of our industry from the powers that be and that includes our very own Management , Directors, NHRA. This is shown by virtue of there ignorance in performing simple task of communication to all involved in racing. Thank you to Sporting Post for there transparency and the opportunity to allow many of us frustrated enthusiasts the facility to vent on their editorial platform.

  10. Philip says:

    Really Vassie? If that is your only response, you are on the wrong page. I sat in the clubhouse at Summerveld on many a morning (before lockdown) and shared a laugh with these guys. At the end of the day, they are only people working, as we all are, to support their families. So what if one or two of them drive luxury cars. There are among them, who battle to find petrol money and yet they arrive every morning to ride work and again at every race meeting to ride the lesser fancied horses. And they do it with a smile and a passion that sadly, not everyone sees. Do me a favour Vassie. Sell your Porche and donate toward this fund. You will feel much better. Ms. KOTZEN. You girl, are remarkable. Thank you so much for helping!! The end

  11. Beverley says:

    There are many jockeys who I am sure live hand to mouth as they don’t get the top rides and more often than not don’t place and live on their rider’s fee. I am shocked by some of the responses above but I will say nothing more other than this is a great initiative.

  12. Martin le Roux says:

    Well done Kirra Kotzen. A sincere initiative from a racing dynasty that has experienced the many highs and lows of racing.

  13. Mister G says:

    This is indeed a sad situation that some jockeys find themselves in . However , in some respects I have to blame the South African Jockeys Association as well as The Coastal Jockeys Association as they should have , years ago , created a fund whereby each and every jockey had to pay a percentage of their riding fee ( say R50 ) as well as a percentage( say 1%) of their Stakes fee towards a fund that would assist jockeys and their families in times of distress . I am sure this would have been tax deductible and if this had of been set up years ago there would have been sufficient funds to assist during this crisis . Just go in to the stats of the top 100 jockeys , as a starting point and work out the total number of rides x R50 and add up the stakes money x 1% and there would be a small fortune to cover a crisis such as we have . As they say , if you need a helping hand , look at the end of your arm for starters !! Bad planning and lack of foresight here . If we can get back to racing , someone needs to start this fund , which of course must be run by competent management . This fund should be compulsory for all jockeys to pay in to . Non negotiable. Hopefully we can get back to racing ASAP .

  14. Akesh Singh says:

    A great initiative ,however all throughout the value chain are to blame for the plight that some jockeys face .The value chain I speak of are trainers,who only engage the leading jockeys with the best rides and therefore prize money opportunities, the owners who may insist on a leading jockey, and of course their fellow jockeys who jetset all over the place taking up all the best rides,leaving little prize money opportunities for the rest.All of this sees the poverty and destitution that is being alluded to in the story.
    After all, the top or leading jockeys as they have come to be known ,are parachuted into the action, while many workridrs and so called lesser jocks must share the crumbs .Trainers and owners should lead by being fair to their loyal jocks especially when a good opportunity arises.Charity begins at home.

  15. Karen Wright says:

    Thank you Kirra for starting this fund. I personally know that they will be very grateful 😘

  16. Mister G . says:

    Akesh, if the SAJockeys Association and affiliates had the foresight there would have been millions in that fund already !! Obviously the top Jocks would be paying a lot more into that fund.

    As an owner I need the best jockey available on my horses simply to increase the chance of recovering some of my costs . Fortunately or unfortunately I run my racing as a business and then as a hobby . It is a bottomless pit .

    The problem is that there are probably too many jockeys who don’t really have the aptitude or instinct / skill to be a competitive jockey and will therefore struggle . Sadly they need to rethink their career choice or have a backup second job.

    As things stand at the moment , racing is in the reboot stage and no better time than now for the Jocks to be proactive.

    By the way , it would be great to see which jockeys in the top half are donating funds to help their fellow riders out ? I have a pretty good idea which ones won’t!!

    In closing , does anyone know what has happened to Heavalon van den Hoven? I believe he had the talent but lacked opportunity !!

  17. Michael Jacobs says:

    The jockeys need our support and empathy at this time, like workers all around the world they are struggling to make ends meet.

    I do want to say though, that the “lesser” jockeys need to make a bigger effort when they get a good ride. Very often these guys get a really good ride and they mess it up. Then the trainer is obliged to fetch the top jocks to get the job done! So these jocks do get chances, but often they don’t make the best of those chances.
    It is incredibly frustrating when you banker a good horse in the PA, ridden by an average jock, you think he should easily win this, and if he doesn’t he should run top 3, then the horse runs unplaced. Whereas a Marcus, Delpech, Striker, e6c the horse is a PA banket!
    Maybe that is why they are struggling today.

  18. Donald says:

    Mister G and M.J. – fully agree , my experience has been that especially over the past say 15 years the ” lesser ” jockeys seem to have just accepted their fate and become work riders who get an opportunity here and there as a reward for riding work and when they get those chances do not make the best of it and thereby deny themselves of moving out of the ranks of ” lesser ” riders.

    However , having said that I bet this situation is going to change as soon as horse racing starts as these jockeys are going to have to make a name for themselves and quickly if they are going to want to make a living out of the sport ?

  19. Joao says:

    With all due respect to every jockey that has ever ridden , is riding or is about to ride. Being a jockey in SA is a bit like Ja /Nee. What i mean by that has been mentioned in a post above but ill put it in my own words and apply a bit of math.

    The Ja / Nee = Underpaid / Overpaid

    Ja / Underpaid

    Let me elaborate. There is no way R1000 a ride is enough to risk your life for. No way Jose and I agree with that 100% Jockeys should be paid R50 000 a ride. Remember they are literally always a maximum of 3 minutes away from catastrophe.

    Nee / Overpaid

    If you go look at the 2018 season the LOWEST amount of rides a jockey in the TOP 40 (per rides got) was 282. Yep 282. Now they are self employed so their accountant should be able to maximise their earnings but the reality is the jockey that rode 282 horses EARNED R282 000 that year. That is R23500 a month.

    Okay woaha you gonna say. The official stats say that the average professional in SA earns $3500 a month or in rand terms R61000 (todays rate) so Jockeys are underpaid. Well i’ll tell you that the average professional earning R61 000 a month is not working 2 hours a day.

    Please don’t get me wrong I am not anti jockeys or anti them earning money. However R282k a year is not a bad wicket to be on. Its less than 1 ride a day for petes sake.

    My issue is that in this case they are overpaid. The R1000 makes it a complacency. I have no doubt there are lads out there that want more rides but I have witnessed with my own eyes lads out there that are happy just sommer riding for 1 trainer 30 rides a month staying in province and earning R30k with loads of time off.

    The academy (whom we support as sponsors) needs to STOP forcing more jockeys into the arena and I said it before on freeracer ( cholas old site) 13 years ago already. Some of the lads really need to retire and find another occupation.

    If we did enforce some sort of “draft” situation like the NFL and licenses to ride were issued out on certain criteria ill tell you what the current jockey pool would be far less BUT every jockey would then earn far more.

    both of my theories though will never happen.

    Jockeys will not be paid R50 000 a ride
    Jockeys will not retire and become plumbers when they can earn R23500 doing basically nothing.

  20. gavin says:

    well it is sad whats happening in our country . sporting post will not publish my comment because they are gutless. numerous times in durban many jockies refused to ride even when the stewards mandated them to do. their reponse to the punters when ask why they were not riding they replied we do not need the money .and now they do not have any money. they showed no respect to the punters and now they want help.. what a joke .. the only jock in durban who respected the punter is warren kennedy . what goes around comes around …

    1. Editor says:

      It’s really no joke Gavin
      That’s a sad response

  21. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Geez, indeed a very sad comment. I support freedom of speech, but also red cards..

  22. Donald says:

    If Gavin is saying that he is gleeful that SOME jockeys are now short of funds that cannot be condoned or supported ?

    However , his point about SOME riders in K.Z.N. being fair weather jockeys and will only ride on a perfect surface has some value and quite a few race meetings were lost in the recent past to jockeys objections to conditions that would have been perfectly acceptable in years past !

    His point is possibly that they were prepared to forgo their riding fees and other earnings at these abandoned race meetings so they should not complain now that there are no race meetings ? ?

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