AJA MEMBERSHIP DESK AT WEATHERBYS: Call 01933 304778
Amateur race riding has been in existence for as long as racing itself and has never been as popular as it is today. In 1995 the Lady Jockeys Association and the Amateur Riders Association amalgamated to form the AJA. The AJA has over 500 Full Riding Members, many Life Associate Members and several Honorary Members and aims to protect and promote the interests of all its members, both male and female, in an increasingly professional world.The AJA aims to:
- improve the standard and safety of all amateur riders
- encourage amateur races under both codes
- find sponsors for such events
- act on behalf of its members by providing recommendations to the various regulatory and administrative racing bodies
- select and finance amateurs to ride abroad
- play an important part through close liaison with the British Horseracing Authority in the formation of the policy of the British Racing Industry
Do I have to be a member of the AJA to ride in Amateur races?
Yes, for the majority of races confined to Amateur Riders you are required to be a member of the AJA. However, you do not have to be a member of the AJA to ride in Hunterchases, military races or to ride against professionals.
How do I join the AJA?
You can join immediately simply by calling our Membership Desk at Weatherbys on 01933 304778 and paying £100 for a full 12 months membership by debit or credit card. You will also need to complete a membership form which is available from Weatherbys, Sanders Road, Wellingborough, Northants NN8 4BX by fax on 01933 304779 or downloaded from the website here.
How can I pay the membership fee?
You can pay by debit or credit card or by cheque (made payable to Amateur Jockeys Association) with the AJA membership form (download it from this website) or have your Weatherbys account debited. Current membership fees are £100 for a full 12 months from date of joining. Membership of the AJA now gives automatic worldwide insurance against temporary injury whilst riding out or handling a racehorse or point-to-pointer, with incapacity benefit of £150 per week payable after the first 35 days of injury for up to 52 weeks. This also currently includes dental cover up to £1500 excluding the first £200 of each claim. (Please note that this cover does not include any capital benefits (such as death or permanent injury payments) but simply offers financial assistance whilst incapacitated.) IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR RIABS (by working full time for a licenced trainer and appearing on his payroll) YOU WILL NOT BE ENTITLED TO AJA INSURANCE. You are welcome to join the AJA even if riding in races is not your plan but you simply would like to purchase the insurance, as this is at a very competitive price – approximately a quarter of what you would have to pay for an individual policy. There is a current upper age limit of 70 years of age.
Do I require a new application form completed each year?
Yes please. This is in your own interests as it is vital that your contact details are kept up to date. Also information on the numbers of winners you have ridden could be helpful as the AJA often receive requests from trainers for amateurs who have ridden a specific number of winners. By keeping our records up to date, we can help to find opportunities for amateur riders that might otherwise go to professional jockeys.
What benefits are there to membership apart from being able to ride in Amateur races?
- The AJA is a recognised body that represents amateur riders and amateur racing in Great Britain. It acts on behalf of its members by providing recommendations for the various regulatory and administrative bodies in racing, and has a representative on the Industry Committee of the British Horseracing Board.
- As described above, membership gives you automatic worldwide insurance against temporary injury whilst riding out or handling a racehorse or point-to-pointer, with incapacity benefit of £150 per week payable after the first 35 days of injury for up to 52 weeks. (Please note: benefits may vary from one year to the next, being subject to annual revision from 1st July.) Please contact the AJA if you need to claim for temporary injury disablement.
- Inclusion in The Riders Directory on the AJA website (which is currently being rebuilt) will soon be available to all members. This is a useful place to advertise your skills for potential rides and you will be able to include your photograph.
- Various discounts are available to AJA members on products and services.
- The AJA Newsletter is now defunct as this website is regularly updated, giving news, views and notices from the Jockey Club, as well as a list of amateur races planned for the near future.
- Under the amateur rider’s riding permit, newly improved insurance cover is included from weigh out to weigh in on the racecourse in respect of death and bodily injury as well as rider-to-rider cover. This is worldwide cover for anywhere with a recognised Racing Authority but if riding abroad please doublecheck with the AJA before you leave. Some countries ask for a letter of confirmation from the BHA that you hold a current licence.
- Thanks to the HH Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak World Arabian Series, all lady riders who can ride at 9 stone and have ridden 5 winners are welcome to apply to ride in this series.
- There are occasional invitation races abroad for amateurs to which you may be invited, both flat and over jumps. Although the AJA relinquished their FEGENTRI membership at the end of 2014, we are anxious to maintain our international relationships with our racing friends worldwide in order to share the unique experience of riding abroad with as many of our members as possible.
- The AJA offers help and advice at all times on all matters concerning amateur race riding, such as sponsorship and Rules of racing. You are ambassadors for the sport of amateur racing. Please refer any controversial issues to the AJA as soon as possible.
Can I join the AJA on the day I am due to ride and do I need to show my membership card when I ride ?
No, your details are stored on Weatherbys database and when you are booked to ride your membership status is automatically checked. However, you are required to be a member of the AJA by 1pm on the day of overnight declaration of the horse. You can join immediately by phoning 01933 304778.
If I join the AJA at the end of the year do I have to pay again in January?
No. A rolling system has been introduced whereby you purchase a full 12 months membership on joining. You will be sent a reminder letter by Weatherbys a month before your membership is due to expire in order that you do not forget to renew it.
What about insurance?
As stated above, your AJA membership now gives you automatic insurance for riding out and handling racehorses and point-to-pointers anywhere in the world. Your riding permit gives you insurance for riding under Rules on the racecourse itself from weigh out to weigh in. If you hold a point-to-point licence, this also insures you from weigh out to weigh in on the point-to-point course. The same does NOT currently apply to an Arab licence if you ride in Arab races and jockeys riding in Arab races are asked to sign a disclaimer.
How can I express my views on the AJA and amateur racing ?
You can contact the AJA via their website or by telephone or post on the contacts given. Please also join the AJA Facebook Group and start a discussion!
Are there any social events arranged by the AJA?
The AJA have in the past arranged a Northern Annual Dinner Dance and a Champions Cheltenham Christmas Craic at which the year’s champions and runners-up receive their cups and trophies.
Advice for amateur riders at the races
- You are an ambassador for the sport of amateur racing.
- Have good protection on your calves – you will notice the difference when you first race ride after the comfortable saddle and clothes that you wear for riding out!
- Always walk the course before you ride and familiarise yourself with the route to the start as well as to the finishing post.
- Once you have weighed out, never leave your saddle unattended.
- Make sure that you leave the weighing room promptly when called to go into the paddock. Don’t be late!
- Try not to do overweight – but don’t make yourself feel ill by trying to do light – be sensible so that you feel fit and well and can ride to the best of your ability. Carrying overweight looks amateurish so please try to avoid it.