THE JOCKEY ACADEMY
Horseracing provides an exciting and financially rewarding career for the professional jockey. The South African Jockey Academy is South Africa's only institution where young people can receive the training they need to become professional jockeys. The Academy receives many applications each year from pupils keen on training as jockeys. The reality is that only the very best survive the rigorous apprentice development programme. The Academy also trains overseas apprentices mostly from Mauritius, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia
Apprentice training begins with riding lessons at the Academy, followed by work riding at the training tracks, once the riding masters feel that the apprentice is ready to move forward to that level. Work riding allows the apprentice to work with real competing race horses in preparation for race riding. At this stage the riding masters will also supervise intensive training on the mechanical horse (equiciser) where correct riding techniques are taught. The next step of the training programme is the signing of racing papers that allows the apprentice to start their qualifying rides and to compete in real life horseracing, together with senior apprentices and professional jockeys.
Apprentices claim a weight advantage of 4kgs until their 10th winner, after which the claim is reduced to 2,5kg. Trainers often look for their horses to carry a light weight but they have to balance this advantage against an apprentice's inexperience. What has been learnt can therefore now be put to test under real racing conditions. An apprentice starts earning as soon as he starts riding. During the indenture period, an apprentice is required to ride a minimum of 50 winners and a good number of places. For these wins and places the apprentice earns a % of the stake money as well as a set fee per race ride. A % of these earnings are placed into a trust account for the apprentice and the balance is paid to the academy to cover costs of training etc. All trust accounts are administered by The South African Jockey Academy and the accumulated funds are only paid out upon graduation. Apprentices who ride well will accumulate a considerable amount of money so that they are able to invest in motor vehicles, property etc. when they qualify as professional jockeys.
Apprentices are required to successfully complete both the riding and academic components of their apprenticeship in order to graduate as a jockey. On successful completion of the course, the apprentice will be awarded a jockey licence from the National Horseracing Authority of South Africa (NHA) and a Diploma in Jockeyship from The South African Jockey Academy (SAJA).
A apprentice jockey application form may be obtained by contacting the Academy using the CONTACT US page on this website.