AJA Seriously Upset About New Racing Victoria Weight Rules

Those of us who work our fannies off, sweating profusely on all manner of fitness (torture) machines can relate to the plight of professional jockeys, more than one of whom has endured a starvation regimen in order to come in light enough to follow their vocation.

The formula is cruel but simple. It takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half of high intensity exercise to burn 600 calories. Six days of that, combined with scrupulous adherence to limiting caloric intake, theoretically results in a one-kilogram drop in weight.

The cruel side of the formula gets involved when you realise that it takes about 10 minutes to consume 600 – 1000 calories of tasty, delicious food, such as that found at Macca’s. One Big Mac, a side of fries and a medium fizzy drink will bust the calorie bank.

So the Australian Jockeys’ Association’s fury over the Racing Victoria decision to employ discretionary powers not to raise weight at final acceptances for the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups is understandable.

The new rules give Principal Racing Authorities, including Racing Victoria the option of keeping original weight assignments intact even if the topweight horse at acceptance times in Group 1 races is beneath 57 kg.

The days of automatic increases to ensure a top weight of 57 kg are over.

The AJA has approached the issue from an integrity viewpoint, according to AJA Chief Executive Paul Innes, but it also seems as though there is concern that some big-name jockeys, such as Hugh Bowman, Damien Oliver and Ty Angland may not be able to get in under the limit for RV Group 1 races.

Under the old system, weights were allocated according to a horse’s rating and the AJA fears that trainers will quickly figure out how to manipulate the new handicapping system to get any weight advantage afforded to them.

Instead of riding thoroughbreds in top races, some jockeys, those who reject the dangerous idea of starvation, will be learning the phrase, “Do you want fries with that?”

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