Morris tentative about one-meeting restriction

Luke Morris is one of the busiest jockeys on the circuit, picking up 1521 rides in 2018.
Luke Morris is one of the busiest jockeys on the circuit, picking up 1521 rides in 2018.

Luke Morris is wary about any move to make the current one meeting per day limit on jockeys permanent, saying that it could reduce opportunities for riders in the long run.

Morris is one of the busiest jockeys in the weighing room, picking up an astonishing 1521 rides in 2018, though he is limited to riding at just one meeting per day at the moment due to the current restrictions around the Coronavirus pandemic. 

The rule, along with the move to extend race cards to a maximum of 10 contests, has meant that some riders have had more opportunities at the smaller meetings on some of the bigger days of racing - when the bigger names on the circuit are finding themselves engaged elsewhere.

Jockeys are currently permitted to ride at nine meetings a week outside of the pandemic - opening the door to appear at two meetings in a day on a couple of occasions - though there have been calls to limit that to one meeting a day in order to help safeguard riders. 

It’s something which has received plenty positive press of late, with Jack Mitchell being one rider who has publicly offered his support, but Morris feels that such an opinion isn’t universal in the weighing room, and added that a sense of pragmatism may be required moving forward - rather than just implementing something strictly. 

He told the Nick Luck Daily Podcast: “Personally, I think there are other ways where you could potentially ride at one evening meeting a week, or you could ride at eight meetings a week, but I just feel that there are some days where it clearly doesn’t work.

“There was an example last week where I rode at the July meeting, I had one ride in the 12:15, and that was me done for the day - and there was evening racing at Kempton where I probably missed eight or nine rides. 

“My job meant that I had to be at Newmarket to take that ride, so there are similar cases where a lot of guys feel the same, and I know speaking to quite a few jockeys in the weighing room, that they’re not particularly happy with it, either. 

“The way it’s been brought across is that everyone’s strictly behind it - which I know for certain isn’t the case. 

“I think all of us have taken rides where we may not get there in time - and you’re driving fast etc - and I think that some sort of restraint is okay, but it’s slightly over the top to limit to one meeting when you could potentially be at Newmarket and Yarmouth or at Lingfield and Kempton, pairs of courses which are a stone’s throw away from each other. 

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It's a move which has received plenty of support from the Professional Jockeys Association chief executive Paul Struthers, who described changing the regulations as a potential 'game-changer' in terms of safeguarding the wellbeing of riders.

He told the Racing Post: “Early signs are that the one-meeting policy is hugely beneficial. With mental health and wellbeing a major issue for years, and in the spotlight even more recently, it could be a game changer.

“Jockeys less tired and healthier will be riding better – it is the full package. 

“We've yet to have a jockey call and say, ‘When can you get rid of the restriction?’ But we have had lots of jockeys ringing to ask how we can keep the one-meeting rule.

“There's no sign the restriction will be ending soon and we'll be sending out a questionnaire and survey around riding at one meeting a day.”

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