Townsville Bulletin

Call for jockey training


TOWNSVILLE Turf Club chairman Mal Petrofski has hit out at Racing Queensland’s plan to pay incentives to city jockeys to travel as bush racing is crippled by a lack of riders.

The regional racing stalwart has instead insisted a jockey training centre be implemente­d in the country to help foster and build home grown talent.

Townsville trainer and former jockey Alby Molino is adamant he would support a regional jockey training program and would be willing to take on an apprentice, his first in more than a decade.

But Molino believed the Townsville Turf Club facilities would not be capable of hosting the centre and insisted it would need to be constructe­d on land out of town or at a smaller track around the region.

“You really have not got the facilities at the Townsville track, there is no bullring track inside there,” Molino said.

“You need to be able to put the young ones on a separate track. They need to be able to get around slowly and pick up as they learn. You don’t want them getting in the way of other riders, it would be dangerous.

“They should have the facilities for up and coming apprentice­s. They should have their own track somewhere out of town and get somebody in to teach them properly.”

The constructi­on would take a funding injection from Racing Queensland, which does not appear to be available.

When contacted about the possibilit­y of building a regional jockey training centre, the sport’s governing body in the Sunshine State refused to comment directly but instead spoke about the boost in jockey numbers in recent seasons.

“Over the past three years, student enrolments have increased by more than 50 per cent. Pleasingly, more than 70 per cent of all enrolments are female,” a RQ spokesman said.

“RQ is working with country clubs to relocate some meetings to Friday or Sunday to give more jockeys an opportunit­y to ride and to reduce scratching­s due the shortage.

“While the global pandemic has impacted the RTO’S ability to attend a number of face-toface recruitmen­t activities, RQ targeted regional areas by taking part in a CQ University career expo visiting Gladstone, Rockhampto­n and Emerald.

“Other incentives to encourage riders into regional Queensland are under considerat­ion.”

One of those incentives, which was revealed by RQ chief executive officer Brendan Parnell earlier this year, included monetary incentives for trainers to take on apprentice­s and jockeys to leave Brisbane.

Petrofski labelled the scheme as a ‘Band-aid solution’ and said most young jockeys who attended the RQ jockey school in Deagon were usually ‘attracted by the bright lights of the city’.

“We need to have a training centre here in North Queensland. The next jockeys aren’t sipping lattes in Queen St mall,” he said.

“We should get the kids from around the area and put them through a local training centre.

“Put them with local trainers and you might find the majority stay in the area.’’

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