Moodley’s timing perfect for Jockey Academy

By Dennis Ryan

17 May 2023

Moodley’s timing perfect for Jockey AcademyNZ Jockey Academy apprentice Triston Moodley is all smiles after his first raceday win on No Agenda

Triston Moodley couldn’t have got his timing better in promoting the merits of the new force in apprentice training, the New Zealand Jockey Academy.
The day before the Byerley Park operation opened its doors to the racing industry, 21-year-old Moodley rode his first raceday winner, No Agenda Nigel, at Ruakaka on May 3. He didn’t have to wait long for his next judge’s salute, completing a double two races later on Silk ’N’ Dale.
Moodley replicated that form at Matamata last Sunday, landing another double on Te Atatu Memphis for local trainers Lance O’Sullivan and Andrew Scott and – again two races later – on first starter Tanner, a stablemate of Silk ’N’ Dale with Byerley Park trainer Kylie Grass.
At age 21 and six months after arriving from South Africa at the behest of compatriot Donovan Mansour, Moodley is making the most of his unexpected opportunity as the poster boy for the New Zealand Jockey Academy.
He’s a neat fit in the group of apprentices being developed by former jockey Mansour, who joined forces with Byerley Park co-founder Daniel Nakhle to bring to fruition a concept proven in South Africa but until recently only spoken about in this country.
The industry gathering at Byerley Park earlier this month was a leap of faith by those who have worked hard to make the Riding Academy a reality and it was obvious to those in attendance that little has been spared in arriving at an effective operational model.
“We strive for excellence in everything we do, which includes quality over quantity in the young people we sign up for the six-month probationary period leading to an apprenticeship,” Mansour told his audience.
The New Zealand Jockey Academy is setting out to complement rather than replace the traditional model of a budding jockey signing up with a licensed trainer and working through the regional apprentice school system.
However, with less trainers prepared to take on apprentices, the new option has much to offer, something that is recognised by trainers themselves.
“The academy model is something that has been talked about for years without anything actually happening, so it’s great to see it finally become a reality,” Cambridge trainer Roger James said.
“I think the whole industry should be supporting Daniel and Donovan’s initiative. Sourcing fresh jockey talent is one of our biggest challenges and this is a fantastic opportunity to address that need.”
The NZ Jockey Academy model is integrated with the NZ Qualifications Authority and Skill New Zealand as well as forming a relationship with High Performance Sport New Zealand, all of which enables trainees to have access to certified qualifications as well as experts in nutrition, fitness, physiotherapy and sports psychology.
In the short time that the Academy has been operational, and including trainees other than those seeking fully fledged apprentice jockey qualifications, the results for young people wanting to work in the racing industry are impressive.
NZQA-certified course completion to date has been achieved by 90 per cent of trainees, 90 per cent have found employment in the industry, and as Mansour puts it “100 per cent have had exposure to all sections of the racing industry”.