The photo of smiling jockey atop a winning horse is front page news. But when a jockey is injured or he dies, hardly anyone hears about it. Such is the dangerous and yet thankless nature of a jockey’s job.
Someone has to care.
Top jockey Blake Shinn has says via Instagram, “Tony Crisafi (CEO) of NSW jockeys association is doing best to always make sure jockey’s (injured or riding) are getting the best treatment.
Sometimes it can be a thankless task with efforts behind the scenes going unnoticed, but Tony is a extremely caring man, hard working and always put jockeys first.
Everest Diaries chats to Tony Crisafi (CEO) of NSW jockeys and previously National Manager of the National Jockey’s Trust about the challenges in a jockey’s life and how NSWJA and NJT have tried to improve the safety of all jockeys in Australia as well as make a difference to the lives of those jockeys who were injured or have died as a result of racing injuries
Q: What are the various associations in Australia which work towards the welfare of jockeys?
A: The Australian Jockeys Association, along with the State Associations work strongly in addressing health, welfare and safety issues for all jockeys and apprentice jockeys. We work alongside each state Principal Racing Authority with providing jockeys with the support they need, particularly following a serious injury.
Q: When and why was the NSW Jockey’s Association established?
A: The NSW Jockeys Association has been in existence for over 100 years; however it’s only over the past 25 years that it has added professionalism to the organisation and supported jockeys. The Jockeys Associations in every state promotes and protects the rights and welfare of jockeys.
Q: What is your role here?
A: I am the Chief Executive Officer of the NSW Jockeys Association. The state of NSW has 122 racetracks and conducts over 5300 races each year which in excess of 51,000 starters. My role is
To represent and assist NSW jockeys
Address safety, health and welfare issues
Promote and protect the interests and activities of Jockeys and assist them in attaining short term and long term life objectives
To raise the profile of Jockeys as elite professional athletes
Work with Racing NSW in achieving better wellbeing outcomes for jockeys and apprentices
Negotiate Insurances for jockeys
Negotiate with Racing NSW an increase in riding fee
Have a close working relationship with our Sports Psychologist
A close working relationship with the Jockeys doctor
*Advise jockeys and apprentices of their benefits and support available
Representation at appeals
Q: Could you tell us a bit more about Tony Crisafi and how did you get involved with NSW Jockey’s Association?
A: I live in Sydney with my partner Allyson. I have two daughters and a step-son who are all aged 21-22yo. I have always worked in compassionate roles, initially with under-privileged inner-city youth, them with retirees. In 2012 I was fortunate to obtain the role of National Manager of the National Jockeys Trust (NJT), a position I held for almost 6 years. In 2016 & 2017 I was virtually doing two jobs (National Jockeys Trust and the NSW Jockeys Association) and on 1st January 2018 I relinquished the role at the NJT and now work solely for the NSWJA.
Q: You were earlier involved with the NJT. What is the purpose of the NJT and how does NSW Jockey Association and of course the races in NSW support NJT?
A: The purpose of the National Jockeys Trust is to assist jockeys who are in necessitous circumstances following a serious injury, illness or sadly death.
The NSWJA supports the NJT with fundraising activities, asking jockeys to attend events or golf days, We also hold an annual race day profiling and raising the awareness of the NJT
Q: How many jockeys are registered with NSW Jockey’s Association ?
A: There are 200 jockeys and apprentices in NSW and all are members of the NSWJA
And what are your key objectives of the association? As per above but mainly to improve the health, welfare and safety for all NSW Jockeys
Q: What are the main challenges faced by jockeys (in NSW and perhaps across Australia) and what is NSW Jockey Association to bring about change?
A: The main challenge for all jockeys is improving the safety. This is an ongoing process with the NSWJA and the national body (Australian Jockeys Association) working with authorities.
We work with the Racing Authorities to address those issues.
The other challenge is that the current generation of people are taller, stronger and heavier than previous generations. Many jockeys go to extreme lengths to ride at the low weights.
Most apprentices work very long hours during their four year apprenticeship, and the NSWJA is working at addressing this issue
Q: There are many jockeys injured in their line of work. For those who cannot return to work duties, are there programs in place to re-train/assist with work placement?
A: In NSW we have 200 jockeys and each year 50 jockeys (25%) are transported to hospital by ambulance. It is a very dangerous occupation. Fortunately in NSW we have a career assistance program for current and former jockeys. I sit on that committee with representatives from Racing NSW. We encourage many jockeys to re-train, particularly those who have had career-ending injuries.
Q: In what capacity does the NJT and NSW Jockey’s Association help injured jockeys and the families of those who have passed away?
A: In Australia we have 650 active jockeys and since 1850 we have had over 880 deaths on Australian racetracks.
The NSWJA, and other state associations, aided strongly by the Australian Jockeys Association will immediately touch base and visit the family of those jockeys who have passed away or have had a significant injury such as paraplegia.
The NJT will offer immediate financial support and together we offer ongoing support to the family and/or the seriously injured jockey.
Q: In every race, the horse and the jockey are partners. A horse gone amok is dangerous and so is a jockey who is not in control of his ride. How does NSW Jockey’s Association drive safety regulation and the importance of implementing those regulations both through trainers and jockeys?
A: We work closely with the NSW stewards and those horses that race erratically and often forced to barrier trial before being allowed to race again. There are regulations in place not allowing apprentices to ride certain horses in trials and races. Safer plastic running rails, better padded barriers and better racing surfaces all aid with the safety of jockeys and the thoroughbred.
The Everest Final Prize Money Breakdown also includes a contribution of A$130,000 to the Australian Jockey Welfare Fund.