Jockeys put off strike

JAI, TAI agree to hold talks on licensing issues

The opening day’s race at the Mysore Race Club on Thursday will go on as per schedule after the Jockeys Association of India (JAI) decided to put off their strike plans.

A cloud of uncertainty loomed over the Mysore races and the weekend action in Pune after a JAI felt their demands to Turf Authorities of India (TAI) on issuing licenses to 13 jockeys, whose licenses weren’t renewed, were not met. The jockeys then threatened not to accept rides for Thursday’s races before TAI stepped in.

“We have decided to accept rides for Thursday’s racing in Mysore,” JAI President Pradeep Chouhan told Deccan Herald. “TAI suggested we hold a meeting on Monday in Mumbai to discuss our demands. With Monday being the Fillies Trial Stakes -- a Classic -- in Hyderabad, we asked them to reschedule the meeting to this weekend or on Tuesday.

“The exact date of the meeting will be confirmed in a day or two. With TAI finally showing some response, we chose to put off the strike until the meeting. We will decide our next course of action depending on the meeting.”

Chouhan’s bone of contention on licensing is the different standards set by different clubs instead of having common rules. 

“At Bangalore a jockey needs to have 20 mounts with at least three placings in a year to get his license renewed. While at Delhi and Hyderabad you need to have 15 mounts. The strict norms in Bangalore makes it very difficult for a jockey to get a license.

“In July, jockey M Ravi from Bangalore committed suicide because he couldn’t get a license. That’s the case with 13 jockeys now. They have no other livelihood. The clubs say they don’t want to issue licenses to average or underperforming jockeys. We feel it’s the trainers and owners who need to decide which jockey they want and not the turf authorities.

“Moreover, where are the facilities for the so-called average jockeys to improve. Secondly, we need to apply for separate licenses at separate venues. What we want is one license that is valid across the country. We’ve been demanding this for a long time but they’ve taken us lightly,” Chouhan added.

With regards to medical facilities, Chouhan felt, barring Mumbai, none of the other venues have even basic life-saving equipment. “The jockeys put their lives through great risk. The ambulances don’t have any life-saving equipment. The doctors at the race clubs are also not great. These major issues must be met at the earliest, else we’ll go ahead with the strike,” Chouhan insisted.

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