Amateurs, Ladies and Gentleman and Apprentice Races
Amateur races are open to both male and female jockeys to compete against one another, while there are races for their own sex as the name would usually imply somewhere in the title of the race, ladies being for women and gentleman events for males only. These amateur races are contested on the basis that the jockeys riding are not professional in status, even if they may happen to ride like one.
A fair proportion of amateur jockeys have a professional job outside of the industry. An amateur jockey can in due course apply for a professional license through the British Horse Racing Authority known as the BHA.
They must, however, ridden in at least twenty-five races before they make their application to turn professional and demonstrate that their services are required on a regular basis. If approved then they will no longer be able to compete in amateur races again.
Many amateur jockeys for this very reason choose not to turn professional as if their career as a professional does not progress as they had expected then their horse riding career in horse racing will very likely be over.
Most apprentice jockeys aspire to turn professionals at some stage during their careers and when they compete against professional jockeys they receive a claim due to their inexperience.
A claim is a number of pounds (LB) in weight that is reduced from the official weight the horse is due to carry. The amount they can claim depends on the number of winners they have already ridden up to that point, see below for further details.
- 7lb Claimer, until they have reached 20 winners.
- 5lb Claimer, until they have reached 50 winners.
- 3lb Claimer, until they have reached 95 winners.
Once a jockey has reached 95 career winners, they can then turn professional and hope that trainers still wish to use their services despite not being able to claim anymore.
It is worth mentioning that an apprentice cannot use his claim in group races, hence they are rarely used in these type of events.
It is sometimes quoted that an apprentice cannot claim in apprentice races but this is not always the case, it depends on the conditions of the race in question, and a special dispensation claiming allowance can be given to less experienced riders even though they are racing against inexperienced riders themselves.
A horse that wins an apprentice race is not going to carry a penalty for its next race, so it can be an attractive proposition for connections to enter their runners in these events, this, in turn, gives apprentices to gain much-needed experience and harness their skills as they ply their trade.
Even the best jockeys were once an apprentice, so if you have the ability to spot talent before it becomes common knowledge then that can benefit your betting over time.
An apprentice demonstrating strong professional skills before they become a fully fledged professional will have the benefit of his or her claim in most races, that is worth remembering.