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Apprentice Jockey

Apprentice Jockey

You will ride horses in races and have the potential for an exciting and rewarding career. You will approach trainers and owners to secure rides, follow instructions on the race plan and communicate the horses performance. You will be running your own business.

Personal Qualities

You have a small frame and ideally weigh less than 50kg. You enjoy physical activities and outdoors work, and have a strong will to win. You need to be motivated, well presented and have excellent communication skills. You can follow instructions, work well both unsupervised and with others.

Qualifications and Experience

You will gain a Certificate IV in Racing (Jockey)

Jockeys complete a 4 year indentured apprenticeship with a Racing NSW licensed trainer. You learn both on-the-job at work and off-the-job through a Racing NSW Approved Training Provider. You will learn about riding horses in trackwork, barrier trials and racing. You will also learn a wide range skills and knowledge related to the racing industry.

Job Opportunities

Racing encourages new entrants or existing track riders to train as apprentices to become professional jockeys.

Apprentice Jockeys are paid a set wage, which increases each year during the apprenticeship. In addition, race rides and barrier trial rides are paid extra, as well as a percentage of any prizemoney earned by horses you ride. Successful jockeys and apprentices may average between 10 and 20 race rides per week. Earnings from race rides and prize money are held in trust by Racing NSW until the apprentice jockey turns 21 years of age, or longer if you choose.

A typical working week for a race riding apprentice jockey involves riding track work 6 mornings per week, helping in the stables and with general horse care. This work is combined with riding in barrier trials and at several race meetings each week.

Apprentice Jockey - Minimum Wage

Apprentice wages
Apprentice Jockey’s earn their money in two ways:
- Wages paid by your Trainer employer , and
- Riding fees including commissions (% of prizemoney) paid by Racing NSW on behalf of owners.

Due to a decision by the Fair Work Commission of Australia to insert Apprentice Jockey Wage Rates into the Horse and Greyhound Training Award 2010, Apprentice Jockey wages changed from 10 November 2014.
This wage scale applies nationally, and provides different rates of pay for Apprentices who have completed Year 12, and also includes an FWC decision that recognises a higher wage for Adult Apprentices (age 21yrs plus) who commenced their apprenticeship after 1 January 2014 and were 21yrs+ at the time of commencement.

To view the Apprentice Jockey Wage Scale, click on the link:
Apprentice Jockeys wage scale notice - Fair Work Commission decision 2014.


Employers must by law pay superannuation at the rate of 9.5% of gross wages into an approved Superannuation fund. Within 28 days of commencement of employment, employees should be issued a “Choice of superannuation fund standard choice form”. This allows the employee to choose an eligible fund.

Forms can be downloaded from the Australian Tax Office website ( or order hard copies by phoning the ATO’s publications ordering service on 1300 720 092 (and quoting NAT Number 13080).

Additional voluntary superannuation contributions may be made by the employee up to an age based limit. Apprentices may like to contact the NSW Jockeys Association for further information about Superannuation options.

A Superannuation component at 9.5% is also included in the ride fee, from 1 July 2014.

Wages – make payment by direct deposit
Commencing 1 April 2012, it is a requirement that apprentice wages are paid directly into the Apprentice’s nominated Bank Account. This is usually by way of Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), or direct cash deposit at the bank, or by Direct Debit. Trainers’ who may be unfamiliar with the process of making payments by EFT or Direct Debit, please make contact with your bank, Racing NSW or NSWTA to seek relevant advice.

The 10 most commonly asked questions about becoming an apprentice jockey


1. How does someone become an apprentice jockey?

Anyone wishing to become a jockey in NSW can contact Racing NSW, the regulatory body for thoroughbred racing in NSW, which was established in June 1997. An extension of indentures is available for up to one year for apprentices who have not out ridden their claim

The Racing NSW Training Department and Racing NSW Stewards work together to provide suitable and effective training opportunities for people wishing to enter the industry. Racing NSW will assist a new entrant sign into a traineeship to ensure structured training applies.

Racing NSW provides advice, support and direction. Racing NSW assesses each case individually, before determining the most appropriate option in terms of organising an apprentice's indenture with a trainer.

If anyone, who wants to become a jockey, approaches a trainer directly, the trainer follows the same process and contacts Racing Training Dept. or Stewards.

An apprentice must initially be registered with a licensed trainer as a stablehand / rider and serve a probationary period with a Racing NSW trainer before being entering into an apprentice jockey indenture with that trainer. This process will occur following Academy style training.

For those who wish to become apprentices but have no practical horse skills, Racing NSW Training Department can provide information to participants about practical and theoretical training, provided through Approved Training Providers.

This may be combined with a workplace position, or alternatively, you may wish to attend a course full time for six months or a year's duration. The prevocational course is suitable for all persons wishing to enter the racing industry and is not limited to just those wishing to become jockeys. Stablehands, strappers and trackwork riders are also encouraged to do this course.

2. How is an apprentice assigned to a trainer?

Experienced Racing NSW staff are integral to the process of placing an apprentice with a trainer. Training Department staff and Stewards have regular contact with trainers throughout NSW and are aware of each trainer's situation. Racing NSW assess the working environment that each trainer can provide looking at all relevant aspects of on-the-job training provided, such as the suitability of a trainer to guide an apprentice's career and whether a trainer has a sufficient number of horses in work to give an apprentice enough track work and race riding experience. An apprentice is placed following a comprehensive process that also involves the apprentice's family and any other appropriate or relevant people.

3. How are accommodation arrangements determined for apprentices?

Racing NSW and the apprentice's family are involved in the process to determine the most suitable accommodation. There are various accommodation options available including living with the trainer's family or in accommodation at the stables or in a nearby apartment. It is not a requirement that apprentices live away from home and those that live close to the racing stables where they are indentured are encouraged to continue to live at home and travel to and from work each day. In each case, the choice is with the apprentice and/or their families where appropriate.

4. What training is offered to apprentice jockeys?

Each Racing NSW apprenticeship is 4 years, with an option for extension. During this time apprentices receive both practical and theoretical training.

Most of the practical training is received 'on-the-job' under the supervision of the trainer to whom the apprentice is indentured.

Training of all apprentices throughout NSW follows the same timetable. The theoretical component for current 2nd, 3rd and 4th year apprentices is received at Apprentice Schools, which are conducted at selected racecourse centres around the state.

The Certificate IV Jockey program is offered through Approved Training Providers. Teaching is delivered by both qualified instructors and experienced Jockeys and Trainers who have been trained as Workplace Assessors and who have also completed a Mentoring and Coaching in the Workplace program. They offer practical advice, support, tuition and the benefit of their experience to apprentices.

Subjects studied include health and fitness for jockeys, nutrition, financial planning, communication skills, first aid, raceday procedures and video reviews of race rides. These subjects are based upon the national competencies of the national training package so that uniformity is maintained.

Apprentice School activities also comprise a practical component with learning aids that simulate the riding experience, such as the mechanical horse and Equisizer, used to improve riding skills and fitness.

Apprentice riding the Equisizer
Apprentice riding the Equisizer

Racing NSW Stewards also regularly attend to provide advice with regards to race day procedures, including the inquiry process.

In order for apprentices to progress to jockey status and become licensed, they must regularly attend, and successfully complete, Apprentice School training.

5. How has apprentice training changed in recent years?

Changes that the Racing NSW has introduced include the following:

  • Uniformity of training programs throughout the state
  • Employing experienced and successful Jockeys as instructors
  • Introduction of Academy style training
  • Training of former and current jockeys as apprentice mentors, to provide mentoring and tuition to apprentice jockeys
  • Introduction of workplace assessments whereby Racing NSW staff visit training stables to assess the development of skills acquired by apprentices during their on-the-job training
  • Restructuring of the placement policy to ensure apprentices are placed in areas and stables that provide maximum opportunity to gain on-the-job experience
  • Adjustment of weight claims for apprentices, within the country, provincial and metropolitan areas, to allow greater scope for race ride success.
  • Compulsory attendance at Apprentice School to obtain theoretical tuition, which complements 'on-the-job' training, and which provides nationally-recognised qualification, at Certificate IV level
  • Apprentice School visits by guest speakers and stewards to complement the curriculum
  • Introduction of the Racing NSW Rising Star Series, which will feature a series of apprentice-only race heats throughout NSW culminating in a Championship final
6. Are the training programs national?

Industry training programs in each Australian state are based on the national Racing Industry Training Package (RITP).

The RITP was developed to establish national competency standards for apprentice jockeys, track riders, stablehands and trainers. It provides structured training models for all skill levels and provides matching qualifications.


7. Have race riding opportunities for apprentice jockeys increased?

Race riding opportunities for apprentice jockeys have increased as they work their way through the consistency of training and the added practical coaching by Racing NSW Jockey coaches. Horse trainers and owners have confidence in the apprentices all round ability to ride successfully and handle the pressures of raceday.


8. What support systems are available to apprentice jockeys?

All apprentices are encouraged to contact any or all of the following officers should they require support and/or advice:

  • Racing NSW Training Department email or phone 1800 200 724
  • Racing NSW Head Jockey Coach/Mentor (02) 9551 7500
  • The apprentice jockey coach/mentor in their region
  • Racing NSW Stewards - 02 9551 7500 (or local region stewards)


9. What Next?

a. Before you are permitted to ride in barrier trials you must be registered for at least three months as a stablehand rider with a licensed trainer for whom you are going to be indentured. The rider must be assessed by the Racing NSW Training mentors or the Stewards before they can ride in a barrier trial. The rider must be a very competent rider before this assessment and the skills required, can take a number of months to achieve.

b. It is necessary for the employee to ride a minimum of 20 barrier trials successfully before being permitted to commence riding in races. When you have reached this stage your employer will be advised by the Stewards and Jockey Coach or Workplace Trainer and Assessor.

c. Weight: to be a jockey, the ideal weight would be 45-48 kg at sixteen years of age for boys and 45 kg for girls.

d. The knowledge gained from the Certificate II in Racing-Stablehand course will provide you with the essential skills required to complete the higher level Certificate III Trackwork Rider / Stablehand and Certificate IV Jockey courses. Racing NSW's Training department strongly advises those wishing to enter the racing industry to either complete the Certificate II in Racing-Stablehand through an approved Industry Training Provider.


10. How do I become a Trainee?

Racing NSW can assist you with contacting a New Apprenticeship Centre (NAC) person who will sign you into the trainee system.

A traineeship generally takes 12 months to complete, although if you go on to be indentured as an apprentice jockey this will take longer.

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