OPINION: ‘You’re not the boss of me-ism’ needs to get jockeys off the horses

Great Sporting Reforms #97: Tabulam Leads the Charge

This covid crapastrophe has spawned a surprising algal bloom of You’re not the boss of me-ism across the land. I can’t help but feel that the agitators might be barking mad up the wrong tree.

If you want to complain about people getting pushed around, how about taking a look at the horse racing industry?

I mean, it’s basically a bunch of little folks being bossed around by fat cats.

The AJC?  Why do they call it the Jockey Club? I don’t see the jockeys making the rules.

They have to endure a Dickensian apprenticeship then submit to a perpetual weigh-in regime that plays hell with their body image, get shoe-horned into bizarre silk costumes of gaudy hues, clamber up onto horses the size of Greenland with corny names, squat on saddles the size of Hitler’s heart, survive the race and then front the stewards if they flog too soft, flog too hard or wear their headgear at too jaunty an angle.

And they’ve got to use the language of servants, “Oh, I’m ever so ‘umble and grateful to Mr Halfturkey for giving me this ride” (tugs forelock).

This can’t go on. Oh no, no, no. It’s time for a comprehensive overhaul, and I’ve already thought it out.

For a start, get the jockeys off the horses. I mean it’s dangerous up there. Plus, the horses already know their way around the track. It’s time for the jockeys to stop being passengers and actually put in, and that means running along beside their horse, the pair of them galloping for the finish line as a true team, mate with mate.

The punters will love it because it introduces more variables: doped horse, clean jockey vs clean horse, doped jockey; jockeys unsettled at the barrier; jockey biting the rump of jockey/horse next door; strong-finishing jockey with slow-finishing horse. And so on.

There’d be no need for weigh-ins, handicaps or saddle weights and the jockeys could be as fat or skinny as they pleased. And jockeys who still like the riding crop could use it on themselves as hard or soft as they liked and not be penalised.

Sports evolve.

Back when I played rugby, if someone had grabbed me by the shorts and lifted me in the lineout I would have deemed it a wedgie and taken violent offence.

Nowadays it’s an essential part of the game. The league scrum has morphed into an oriental bowing ceremony, and now it’s time to throw something new into the horse racing mix.

First, egg and spoon. I feel this would be very appealing to children and get them into punting early. It’d be free choice as to whether the jockey or the horse carried the egg and spoon.

Next, five-legged racing. Tether one jockey leg to one horse leg with the traditional stocking or pantyhose. The stocking could be fishnet and the pantyhose could be a gaudy colour and/or of silk to please the traditionalists.

You will see that I have thought of everything.

Next, names. Excess wowserism has stifled naming creativity.

Sack the AJC name censors. People should be free to name their racehorse Goose the Pope or Bumbum Bummington.

Don’t stop there: give jockeys the freedom to make up their own race names.

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Who would you cheer louder for, Michelle Payne or Vavoomba, Conqueror of Galaxies, Damien Oliver or Snogger McPantry?

Sprinting favours the long-legged. Taller jockeys would win more often, and, over time, jockeys would grow taller and evolve into something more like Usain Bolt or Cathy Freeman.

And they would no longer be easy to push around and intimidate.

There would be less, “If you please, Mister Halfturkey” and more, “Hey you!”

Then jockeys could storm the AJC and put a bit of stick about.

Of course, there would be an initial obstinacy of resistance – egg and spoon skepticism, if you will.

But you have to start somewhere, and that’s why I’m proposing that the campaign kicks off at the next Tabulam Races. Tabulam is the home of the Light Horse. Those chaps were into tent-pegging and novelty events like that from way back, so it’s only fitting that the New Horse Racing, with its man-and-horse mateship, its egg-and-spoonery and five-leggery kicks off at that Aussie bush racetrack beside the Clarence River.

A lesson to us all.


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