Sun | May 31, 2020

Tough ride for jockeys

Published:Tuesday | April 7, 2020 | 12:29 AM

PRESIDENT OF the Jamaica Jockeys’ Guild, Shane Ellis, says a lot of the country’s jockeys have now fallen on hard times following the shutdown of Caymanas Park almost three weeks ago in light of the coronavirus disease.

Caymanas Park, which is located in Gregory Park, St Catherine, is home to over 25 registered jockeys and more than 100 exercise riders.

Ellis told The Gleaner that the registered and more successful jockeys do not received pay for exercising the horses in the mornings, and so with the closure of the racetrack, there is no other way for them to earn a living.

“Most of the jockeys who are not earning right now are falling on desperate times because if we don’t ride, we can’t earn a living,” said Ellis.

“We just have to try and cope because it is hurting us, but we can’t do anything about it,” he said. “It is hurting most of all the ones who were not earning throughout the year.”

ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME

It is understood that the exercise riders receive a mere $150 per horse that they work out each morning.

The former champion jockey underlined that apart from exercising a few horses in the mornings, most of the jockeys have to be sitting at home because they don’t have another job to turn to.

“We don’t have anything else to do than just stay at home, because we don’t have another income to earn from, as this is our only source of income,” Ellis said.

“We just have to be living off what we had earned before, and most of us don’t know how long this money is going to last for, because a lot of the jockeys have families to feed,” Ellis stated.

“I know that the COVID-19 is very deadly and so we have to be going off the government procedures; and so we are just waiting to see what will happen, because this is really affecting us a lot down here,” he stated.

robert.bailey@gleanerjm.com