MUMBAI: The Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC) has revived its jockey school after a gap of more than one decade. A batch of 12 students has been selected to undergo training at its school situated in the stable area of the Mahalaxmi racecourse.
"About a couple of months ago we had advertised for the trainees and received about 27 applications, out of which we selected 12," Shujjat Hussain, the senior stipendiary stewards, told TOI on Tuesday.
A committee consisting of one steward, the chairman of the Western India Trainers' Association, the chairman of the jockeys association, and a couple of stipendiary stewards, selected the trainees.
Explaining the criteria when selecting the trainees, Shujjat said: "We looked for the boys with small frames with weight in the region of 47 to 50 kgs and around 5 feet in height but we even took boys who are around 5.4 in height too as they had weight around 42 to 45 kgs."
Some of the boys who have been selected are already working as riding boys, said Shujjat. "We will give them advanced training. For complete novices, there will be a different approach," he added.
These boys reside at the club and their needs are taken care of by the club. "For those who are working as riding boys, the duration of the training would be around one year while for the others, it will stretch up to two years. These boys have been selected provisionally. If the selected boys become taller, they may lose their apprenticeship," informed Shujjat.
Former jockeys Jerome Pereira and Jeetu Singh are training these boys. "The boys are very enthusiastic and am sure this great initiative by the RWITC committee will go a long way in nurturing the future riders," said Pereira.
Then there is one judo coach who gives them the physical training to ensure the boys develop flexibility of the body. There is also an English teacher to teach them basic conversational skills so that they can communicate better with trainers and others in their profession. The English teacher also teaches them etiquette and general knowledge.
"The boys appear to be keen. Since many of them have no knowledge of the English language, it will take some time before they could become better with their communication skills. I have devised a simple system to help them learn conversational skills faster. I will try to impart general knowledge and manners so that they can become confident about conversing with others in a language other than their own," teacher Jayshree D'Sa told TOI.
The most interesting part of training is that a pool of advanced boys among them is made available to any trainer for the morning trackwork. This gives these boys exposure to a variety of trainers and horses. The boys can understand how each trainer follows his own methods and what they expect from their riding boys and jockeys which itself is like practical lessons for them.
In the next few months, former jockeys like legendary Pesi Shoff will give them lectures on the fine art of riding. Then senior jockeys like PS Chouhan, Suraj Narredu, and even foreign jockeys, if and when they come to ride in India, will be taking lectures.
One of the trainees, 16-year-old Kartik Biramne is the son of former jockey Ravi Biramne. "I grew up in a household where we had a racing environment. I always wanted to become a jockey," said Kartik who is a college student and wants to continue his studies too.
The trainees: Aditya Waydande, Sonu Chouhan, Siddharth Acharya, Indrajit Gaikwad, Ram Swarup Choudhary, Suraj Deware, Bharat Singh, Prem Digambar, Kartik Biramne, Rehan Shaikh, Omkar Akhade and Rohan Gangadhar.
Credits : TOI