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Jockey Academy Head Retires

Educator says he enjoyed ''every minute of it

South African Jockey Academy headmaster Graham Bailey retires at the end of the month after 13 years at the helm.

Previously Graham had spent 26 years at Pinetown Boys High, 10 years as headmaster.

Gold Circle Racing Executive Raf Sheik hands Graham Bailey a gift at Hollywoodbets Greyville yesterday (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

He then spent two years in an educational advisory capacity but when the headmastership of the academy was advertised he jumped at the opportunity to once again mentor young people.

“The comments at the time were ‘good luck’ but I have enjoyed every minute of it,” he said.

Graham is proud to have introduced a more scientific and professional approach as to how apprentices are taught in a professional sporting environment.

He is also proud of the achievements and success of the academy apprentices when pitted against others from foreign countries in apprentice challenges.

He did however, point out that racing in South Africa has been shrinking and although the top half of the current 79 registered riders earned comfortable salaries, those at the bottom were struggling and the system can hardly cater for more than two new jockeys each year.

The academy was building close ties with other racing jurisdictions, the aim being to attract foreign apprentices, “but Covid struck and poked us in the eye.”

The focus now is on diversification with the equine side of the academy to possibly be re-opened and the up-skilling of participants in traditional rural racing.

Graham suffered a heart attack in December last year and this was a key factor in his decision to retire. He and his wife Marianne will be moving to Pretoria to stay with their daughter and son- in-law.

“We will do the usual grandparents thing and keep up with my woodworking, but we have caravanning trips planned and will do a bit of birding.”

Gold Circle and the entire racing industry wished Graham a long and healthy retirement.

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1 comment on “Jockey Academy Head Retires

  1. Eric Fordred says:

    Graham you have been a credit to your profeSsion, and the Academy has benefited hugely from your hard work and dedication, as have the many Apprentices who were fortunate enough to pass through your hands. May you and Marianne be blessed with a long and Retirement. It was a pleasure knowing and dealing with you Sir.

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