Becoming a Jockey

A career as a Jockey

A career as a Jockey can be highly rewarding and New Zealand has a proud tradition of producing champion Jockeys such as Lance O'Sullivan, Shane Dye, Michael Walker and James MacDonald.

Apprentice jockeys begin work early in the morning with general stable duties such as mucking out, feeding, grooming, caring for the horses, and getting them ready for track work.  Horses are exercised and prepared to attend jump outs, trials and race meetings. 

As you often work six days a week and hours are long, it is usual to have late morning and early afternoon off before the horses are attended to once again.  As riding time gradually increases and there is a requirement to travel to race meetings there is a corresponding decrease in stable duties.

Starting out as a probationer the opportunity to ride at jump outs and trials provides the chance for you to increase your skills and riding ability.  Once competent you will be licensed to ride an as apprentice jockey at race day and your employer/trainer will assist in finding you race day rides.  This will develop your reputation and skills, which will allow you to progress to an independent career as a Jockey.

Apprentices earn a wage and once licensed receive a riding fee and a percentage of stake earnings. 

There are specific entry requirements for jockey training. You must:

  • Be at least 16 years old or 15 if exempt from school
  • Be a small build and weigh around 50 kilograms
  • Pass a full medical examination
  • Love horses!
  • Be prepared to travel regularly to race meetings and trials.

Apprentice Jockey Academy

To become a licenced jockey you must complete the New Zealand Apprenticeship in Thoroughbred racing- Jockey

Apprentice Academy sessions include working towards the units that make up the National Certificate in Equine Jockey, technical instruction on the mechanical or sprung horse, review of recent race rides, specialist speakers and field trips.