Jockeys Challenge comes under fire
STEPS will be taken to ensure a higher standard of overseas riders in next year’s International Jockeys Challenge after criticism of some of those taking part this time.
Joey Ramsden described Turkish jockey Yasin Pilavcilar as “absolutely appalling’’ and the Sporting Post commented that “when the standards drop to the level of some of the ‘stars’ that rode at Turffontein and Kenilworth then it is time to call it a day."
Racing Association boss Larry Wainstein, who chairs the organising committee, said yesterday: "One of the sponsors is Phumelela International which shows our racing in Turkey and they feel it would help if there is a jockey from there.
"In fact Turkish champion Halas Karatas was asked to come again but he turned us down as his wife passed away and the number two couldn't make it. Pilavcilar was a last-minute replacement. But in future, unless we can get the top guys, we will say to sponsors that we would rather look elsewhere."
Wainstein - "I am still trying to take the knives out of my back" - added that the likes of Kieren Fallon, Richard Hughes, Olivier Peslier and Michel Barzalona were approached but for one reason or another they were unable or unwilling to come. It was Hughes who suggested inviting James Doyle, Adam Kirby and Martin Harley, saying: “They are top up-and-coming jockeys.’’
Wainstein was critical of trainers for not supporting the international races better and pointed out that a number of them didn't fill. He added that in an ideal world he would invite top American and Australian jockeys as well as those from Europe “but we don’t have a sponsoring airline for those countries to pay part of the flight costs and we have to work within the constraints of our budgets.’’
He pledged that, despite the criticism and the Sporting Post's suggestion to call it a day, the series will continue.
He said: “The jockeys who come here love it and, when they go back home, they tell people about South African racing. They also say that they have never been treated so well. What an advertisement that is. It makes it worth every rand we spend. I have a passion for this international series and, if people are going to criticise me, then so be it. I've just got to keep my chin up and go for it.’’