It is an often-overused description … but to say that apprentice jockey Kyle Wilson-Taylor’s career was ‘flying’ along at a great rate of knots would not have been an understatement.
That was before it hit a brick wall … no, not through the normal speedbumps that can disrupt a jockey’s path, such as injury or suspension … but because he has had his hands tied by bureaucratic red tape and effectively ‘grounded’ from race riding.
The circumstances are as unusual as they are unfortunate … and perhaps there is a cautionary tale in here somewhere that others might want to heed if they don’t want to find themselves in his unhappy predicament.
In short, Wilson-Taylor had come to Queensland from New South Wales and was riding on a visiting apprentice rider’s license which expired on February 24.
Wilson-Taylor was attached to the Lindsay Hatch stable during his time in Queensland up until February 24 after which he looked to officially transfer to the Hatch yard.
That is when, what the stable expected to be an easy transition, started getting complicated.
Tracey Hatch takes up the story.
“We had already filled out the application and signed the agreement and everything for Kyle to transfer to us,” said Hatch, “but then there was a bit of a holdup with Kyle’s previous master. They had to cancel what is called the New South Wales training contract which is with Apprenticeships Australia in New South Wales … which was done nearly two weeks ago now.
“That contract had to be cancelled before his Queensland license could be registered. So even though we had signed up with MGGT (the training provider) in early February, they couldn’t actually register it until his previous license was cancelled, and because Kyle was still riding, I didn’t want to cancel it before the end of the visiting license fell due.
“He was suspended around that time so I thought there would be more than enough chance to complete the transfer without affecting his time in the saddle.
“In hindsight, we probably should have looked at extending his visitor’s license or something like that. It has just been a very messy, red tape affair.
“We just assumed … ok, so the visiting license expired on February 24 … Kyle got time then … nearly two weeks … and we thought that would be plenty of time to get things done. All of the paperwork was in place. All they had to do is cancel one license and register the next one … but little did we know.
“It really is a warning to others.
“Nobody takes the time to say these are the steps you have got to go through to get your actual apprentice license transferred. You are looking at probably a month, maybe six weeks to get it through.
“There should be something in place to warn these kids that for an apprentice to transfer their license from one state to another it is going to be a long process.
“Had we realised it was going to take so long perhaps Kyle could have gone on a holiday, but instead we were all left sitting in limbo thinking that any day now we could get the license … and it is just extremely frustrating for Kyle and is upsetting every day.
“Luckily, Kyle is very dedicated and focussed on his career. All he wants to do is ride and he needs to stay busy. It is difficult for him and we are all trying to keep him balanced as well.
“If Kyle didn’t have somebody like me pushing for him, he would just be another number in another queue waiting for who knows how long. I’m there every day trying to get things moving. I’m trying to jump through hoops to get the license through.
“It just shouldn’t be that hard.
“Meanwhile, Kyle’s sitting there on tenterhooks. His manager is waiting. Nobody knows how long it will take. Everybody is in limbo.
“I know that people are getting annoyed with me because I keep asking … have you heard anything, have you heard anything … and I keep ringing people to try and help asking can you do this, can you do that.
“Two Friday’s ago, when we realised that the license was not going to be issued in time, I contacted the stewards and they said they would have to pull him off all his rides. That was about four o’clock in the afternoon and I was sitting there thinking I bet you he can’t even ride trackwork.
“I contacted Glen Prentice from the Jockey’s Association and he confirmed that, as things stood, Kyle would not be able to ride work either. Luckily, Glen was able to put me onto a lovely lady at QRIC who helped us get a trackwork license for Kyle and that came through at about 7.45pm on Friday night.
“Perhaps this type of thing should be explained at Apprentice School. I think they should be telling apprentices about the licensing process if you move in-between states and that you can be at risk of not being able to even ride work in circumstances like Kyle faced.
“In our case we have had to deal with Queensland Racing, QRIC, MEGT (the training provider), DEBST, (Department of Employment, Small Business and Training), Apprenticeships Australia and New South Wales, Racing New South Wales. We could get a trackwork license in three hours because that was one department, but here we are dealing with half a dozen departments which can be a bit of a nightmare.
“You basically have to fill in forms. Then the matter has to go to Racing Queensland. Then it goes to MEGT to draw up the contract. Then MEGT has to send it to DEBST for approval where you are put in a queue with applications for apprentice plumbers and electricians and people like that. There could be as much as five hundred people that they are dealing with … and you just don’t know where you stand or if those various departments are talking to each other.
“And then, once you get officially registered, apparently you get a number that has to go back to Racing Queensland, who then make their recommendations to QRIC. My understanding is it has to go to QRIC to finally approve the actual license.
“The most frustrating part is nobody has been able to give me a timeframe on anything.
“At the end of the day we are talking about somebody’s livelihood and career. The amount of money it is costing Kyle, and his manager, is just ridiculous.
“I’m not blaming any one department … it is the whole process that is just so frustrating!
“I’m just trying to get things sorted.
“Surely there has got to be a better way to make it easier.”