Trainee jockey course may yet go ahead

HOPES have been raised of a rescue deal for a Fás-funded course after its cancellation left 32 young trainee jockeys in the lurch.

Talks took place yesterday between Fás, the Racing Academy and Centre of Education (RACE), which runs the course, and Horse Racing Ireland, which also provides financial support for it.

There is now a chance of salvaging the course, albeit with a late start, and providing places for all 32 trainees who had originally expected to begin classes in August. The course takes in around 30 trainees aged 15-18 each year and provides a combination of regular schoolwork and practical training at RACE’s residential centre in the Curragh.

It has been running since 1977, with well-known graduates, including Johnny Murtagh, Conor O’Dwyer and Cathy Gannon, but fears were raised about its future after this year’s trainees were told in August that the start date was being delayed.

They were then informed by phone last week that it would not be going ahead at all. Fás said it had withheld its annual grant of €350,000 for the course after a monitoring visit raised “concerns” about it but did not specify the nature of the concerns.

It is understood that yesterday’s talks went better than expected as it had been thought it would be impossible to reverse the cancellation of the course and the focus would have to be on ensuring it resumed next year.

Fás would not elaborate on the discussions but is expected to get back to the other participants in the next few days with a response to a rescue proposal.

The state training body said only that it had “no comment to make at this point in time“.

RACE would not comment either except to say that talks had reached an advanced stage. “We are hopeful of a resolution,” said director Keith Rowe.


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