Courses for grooms and work riders from Randjesfontein, Turffontein and the Vaal training centres, as well as private establishments, are held annually. These courses are managed by former champion jockey James Maree and continue to be well supported by the trainers with candidates enthusiastic to enhance their riding skills.

Graduates of the basic course who display the necessary potential are able to participate in advanced courses and then progress to riding in races for work riders.

Phumelela continues to facilitate trial gallops after Highveld race meetings to allow advanced work riders to familiarise themselves with the racetracks and to qualify to ride in races.

At least one race for work riders is held every week at a Phumelela racecourse and an annual Work Riders' Challenge worth R50,000 is staged, comprising three meetings at which all the equine participants are ridden by work riders.

The programme has been a huge success since its introduction. The standard of work riding across the board has been significantly enhanced and graduates are able to command higher wages as a result of raising their skills from grooms’ level to that of qualified work rider. In addition, work riders who ride in races retain the standard rider’s percentage of prize money earned by their mounts.

A number of work riders have secured international contracts and a handful have gone on to become special apprentices with the South African Jockeys' Academy.


The Management Committee of the Gauteng Jockeys’ Academy believes that it is essential to have a strategy that is controlling yet sensible, motivating and encouraging in order to attract and contain talented young men and women who will become the champions of the future. The fine line between discipline and the creation of bold, determined and competitive individuals is respected and ensured within a framework of sportsmanship. A culture has been introduced that acknowledges that the apprentices are attending a tertiary education institution.

In-house life skills training aims to ensure that the apprentice jockeys are psychologically healthy and socially adept. Financial management courses have been introduced to help the young men and women deal with this aspect of their lives.