Much has been said and claimed recently about the percentage of an apprentices wage going to the trainer employing them. Stan Moore's "profit" from his employment of the excellent Josephine Gordon was highlighted in yesterday's Racing Post as if it were a 'crime'.
The cost of employing apprentices is not insignificant, along with the cost there is the issue of time, effort and further losses, rarely apparent to the onlooker. These young riders come into the sport with Dreams and aspirations while the trainer employing them is under no such illusions. Trainers already know how tough it will be to get their apprentice going as a jockey, how hard it is to convince owners to put the young rider on their horses when stronger, more experienced and talented jockeys are readily available. We all know to our cost that many winners are left on the track when that inexperience, weakness and inability to read a race as it unfolds, takes over.
This is par for the course when you leg up an apprentice and many trainers keep a few horses in training themselves at significant cost, especially for their apprentices to ride when owners' enthusiasm for using apprentices wanes or fails to ignite. George was one of fifteen apprentices employed by his "Guvnor" Jack Waugh, those days the lads wages were indeed pitiful but George will tell you he was more than willing to forgo half his riding fee for the opportunities he was given, he knows full well that his early day inexperience will almost certainly have cost his guvnor a winner or two but without Mr Waugh's help, advice and ongoing support G Duffield would never have booted home all those winners to become of of the most successful jockeys this country has seen.
For every apprentice who might make a trainer some money there are hundreds, if not thousands of apprentices who fail to ride many winners at all. The percentage of failed apprentices far outweighs the number of trainers fortunate enough to recover their costs, let alone benefit from the few apprentices who succeed in a tough world, one in which "opportunity" is paramount and costly to the horses connections, in particular the trainer. Be careful not to kill the goose who lays the golden egg. These apprentices need help and trainers don't need vilifying for their considerable efforts.
How long will it be before some top trainers who produce good apprentices refuse to take any more on?