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Picture: The SAJA apprentices and students of 2012 with Blade Nzimande

Paddy Wynne, a former top lightweight jockey and riding master who is now part of the recruitment drive at the South African Jockeys Academy, said the new rule amendment to the weights had taken him by surprise.
 
The amendment among other changes gives all female jockeys a 1,5kg allowance for their entire careers.
 
Wynne said there had never been a special drive to attract female jockeys to the academy.
 
He did not believe the announcement of a 1.5kg allowance would make any immediate impact on recruitment as it would be meaningless to most candidates.
 
Wynne said Nadine Low Ah Kee had “hit the nail on the head” with her statement about race-riding having little to do with brute strength. 
 
However, he admitted that strength probably did make a difference in a “ding-dong finish”.
 
Paddy deliberately kept his weight down as a youngster in order to secure good light-weight rides.
 
He said, “I was one of the best lightweights in the country, so that got me the ride on Jamaican Rumba (won the July carrying 48kg), on Tropicante (unlucky second in the July carrying 52kg, won the Gold Cup carrying 54kg) and North Island (won the Holiday Inns (Summer Cup) carrying 50kg, but the downside was keeping to that strict diet meant you didn’t feel great. Everybody uses the term ‘weak’ in a finish, but the difference between a 48kg rider and a 57kg rider is like a lightweight boxer versus a heavyweight, the latter are bigger and stronger. Today you have strong riders in a finish like Richard Fourie and Bernard Fayd’Herbe and others, and there were plenty of them in my day too, Felix Coetzee, Freddie Macaskill, Johnny Cawcutt, Dennis Bosch, Kenny Michel, Bert Abercrombie and too many others to mention.”
 
However, Wynne then qualified what he had just stated by concluding, “At the end of the day you need the best horse.”
 
Wynne said applying to the academy was open to all and, ironically, he had gone down to Cape Town recently to interview the only online applicant from that region, a female.
 
The drive will now be able to include visits to schools and other such institutions again, now that lockdown is over.
 
Better performance statistics by female riders might have an impact on recruitment as has apparently happened in France where female jockeys are given a weight allowance.
 
On the other hand no weight allowance in the UK has not stopped plenty of females from becoming jockeys.
 
It is also debatable whether it is fair, considering the success recently of female jockeys of the like of Hollie Doyle, Rachel Blackmore and Rachel Venniker. 
 
Only time will tell what impact the new rule changes will have.
 
However, what appears to be emerging is the lack of consultation on the matter with relevant industry players before implementation.