Former champion jockey Roy Higgins declared in The Winning Post: “Why is it so many young jockeys go through hell before either disappearing from racing altogether or somehow getting their careers back on track? Well, I think the reason is obvious – money, too much of it.” Higgins noted: “Kids these days can earn between $500 & $1,000 a day in losing rides. They can be out of their apprenticeship at 18 & have access to massive amounts of cash. Most parents with adult children will remember a time their kids went a bit ‘off the rails’ late in their teenage years. That may have involved drinking to excess or doing silly things. Imagine the temptation for a kid with sudden access to huge amounts of money. And remember we are in a time of another great evil in easily accessible & dangerous drugs, which incidentally, could be seen as an ideal alternative (to beer) for a jockey fighting to keep weight off.
I don’t know what the solution is. . . In my day they didn't come out of their time until they were 21, so the big pay-out was delayed. If you out-rode your claim by that age you had done a great job, because there were only 2 meetings a week. Nowadays with 24/7 racing it’s much easier to get out of your apprenticeship & into that lovely cash. Money is a wonderful thing, but also can be very dangerous in young hands. Look how many footballers had their lives shattered because of it.”