Stephen Baster says he would not encourage his children to follow him down the path of becoming a jockey.
He says the job is too dangerous, however after 25 years he still gets a buzz out of riding.
As chairman of the Victorian Jockeys’ Association Baster is frustrated with those attacking his association’s chase for a pay rise.
One trainer has said jockeys don’t deserve ‘one cent extra’ while others are calling for better pay for track riders and stablehands.
The VJA says times have changed since their last Enterprise Bargaining Agreement was reached three years ago.
“Instead of working daytime jobs we’re working night time and afternoon shifts most of the time, as well as early mornings,” Baster said.
“And there’s no penalty rates as there is in other work places.”
Baster says there is a large amount of unpaid work jockeys do in the hope of getting rides.
He pointed out jockeys travelling to jump-outs at country venues can be as much as $300 out of pocket by the time travel, fuel costs and their time is taken into account.
Baster concedes the top five to 10 jockeys are well compensated, while he has a comfortable living, but there are also numerous costs.
Out of their $200 riding fee and the five per cent of prize money earned they pay their managers 12.5 per cent while car costs can be more than $25,000 a year and new saddles cost around $1000.
“I would say I pay anywhere between $5000 to $6000 on gear a year,” Baster said.
“I travel 50,000km a year, and I don’t go to all the meetings like a lot of the others.
“That’s 1000km a week, averaging two tanks of petrol, so that adds up and then there’s insurance, which is very expensive.”
Baster recently went through the earnings of jockeys for the 2016/17 financial year.
He said the 60th jockey on the list, after expenses, earned $50,000, pre-tax.
“If you’re 60th I don’t see how you can do the job, but the industry needs them,” Baster said.
“With two meetings, one in the afternoon and one at night, you need around 80 jockeys, 40 at each meeting.
“We had a career transition program last year which a number of the guys looked at but there’s guys out there that only know one thing.
“They love the industry and want to stay in it.
“They’re not wanting to rob anybody.”
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