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By Graham Potter | Friday, August 3, 2018

Graham Potter writes a weekly column for the Sunshine Coast daily. Due to demand from those having trouble accessing the paper these columns are now also published on HRO courtesy of the Sunshine Coast daily.

The announcement confirming a pay-rise for jockeys in Queensland, which moves the riding fee scale up to $200 per ride (from $185), has to be seen a win, not only for the jockeys themselves, but for Racing Queensland who committed to the cause to push the riding sector benefits up to a competitive level with the financially stronger southern states … for now at least.

Both the Queensland Jockey’s Association and Racing Queensland spokesmen praised the collaborative effort of all parties in what must have been a fairly delicate discussion. It has to supposed that the negotiation was not all smooth sailing but it is to both party’s credit that they found a resolution without the matter spilling over into the public debate arena which so often damages racing’s image.

In fact, the announcement came out of left field. Short. Sharp and complete. A done deal!

This is in distinct contrast to the situation in Victoria where jockeys, who already get $200 a ride, are in a battle with Racing Victoria as they push for a ‘substantial’ riding fee increase (that amount has not been disclosed).

There, the negotiations have stalled to the point where there is now a serious standoff with both parties going pubic on the most recent developments.

Given the breakdown in negotiations, the Victorian Jockey’s Association has effective brought into play a media ban directing all riders to, ‘withdraw from all media commitments until this dispute is resolved.’

While jockeys will follow the ruling, it would be a surprise if the majority agree with it as the media gives them much needed, priceless coverage on a daily basis.

Racing Victoria responded to the Jockey’s Association media ban by echoing what many were saying, stating, ‘We note that the jockeys have been directed not to conduct any media interviews, which is to the detriment of the industry, in particular punters, owners and racing fans.’

Most believe it is a counter productive strategy but the point is that for once Queensland can sit pretty, with the ruling body and the jockeys having reached a deal, and watch the skirmish taking place at a racing precinct which is usually held up as an example to locals.

Sure, when the Victorian Jockeys get their increase (and they will, whatever it amounts to), Queensland jockeys will again be earning less than their counterparts, but you can’t get away from the fact that Racing Queensland has, in essence, taken a big step forward here.

Let’s give credit where credit is due, not only for the outcome but for the way everything was handling professionally behind closed doors.

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