The jockeys copped another bagging this week. Only a handful, mind you. But as usual, others get dragged down too.
Like any profession, there are those who qualify as good and decent. As well as a few who are more than happy to darken the reputation of their colleagues.
From doctors and lawyers, to plumbers, publicans and priests. Journos even. So it has always been.
There are thousands of blog writers. Some are brilliant. Others pedal rubbish and crud. Then there are the rest of us, compiling pages of harmless dribble every other day for our family and close friends.
My point here, and I do have one, is that it’s unfair to lump everyone into the same basket. And I fear that’s what happens when the spotlight is put on racing.
To those folk outside the industry, who wouldn’t know a saddle cloth from a soap dish, claims of wrongdoing equals everyone being a cheat. I hear it often.
As a punter, I can reach rare levels of fury when a jockey steers one in the wrong direction. Taking my cash with him or her. But I never stop admiring the skills and courage of the hoops every time they go around.
Few other professions pose such dangers. Certainly not six or seven times a day. And that’s not counting trackwork, and barrier trials. Huge, heavy, flying machines, that don’t always do as they’re told.
It’s easy to forget the dangers. They risk life and skinny limbs every time they take one out. A bit different to those of us who park large bums at desks, where the day’s biggest danger is burning a tongue on hot coffee.
I’m friends with plenty of hoops, mainly through social media. They impress me time and again, with their humour, and dedication, and support for colleagues.
Yes, there are some narks. But they’re in the minority. Look around your own workplace. Good luck if you don’t have any.
Most are young, working and playing hard. Unlike others of their age, this lot get up at 3am every day. And quite often eat similar portions to a sparrow.
It’s a sport of individuals, but the jockeys remind me of how a football team operates. They stir each other, and tease, and love nothing more than a decent prank. Watch them go at it if a mate gets a ride wrong.
But in times of trouble, they stick solid. Just like a team. There for each other, with more solidarity than most other groups. In those dark days when a jockey is seriously hurt, or worse, the bond is rock solid.
Here in Queensland, the riding ranks have never been so strong. And it’s no co-incidence that the form of the younger riders is on the up. Just like a footy club, the senior players set the tone.
Blokes like Chris Munce and Larry Cassidy have won more Group Ones than I’ve cooked lamb roasts. Those on the rise have role models right next to them. And blokes who know them, tell me they are well aware of doing their bit.
My humble view is that the game is cleaner than it’s ever been. The stings and shonks of days gone by are much harder to get away with. Listen to an old-timer explain the way things used to be, and tell me I’m wrong.
I’m not silly enough to think the game will ever be totally clean. When such big money is involved, there’ll always be someone wanting to get a piece of the action by means that aren’t allowed.
When they catch the crook ones, I’m all for throwing the book at them. Set an example, so others don’t go down that path.
But it doesn’t mean everyone sitting in a saddle is wearing a black hat. Without them, the industry we love would grind to a halt. Sure, let them know if their ride wasn’t up to scratch. As long as you cheer the good ones too.