Robert King Jr., Executive Director of the Jockeys' Benefit Association of Canada (JBAC), recently notified the JBAC Directors of his intention to retire from the position, on April 20, 2019. Established in 1947, the JBAC is the collective association for professional Thoroughbred Jockeys across Canada.
In response, Director Larry Attard, paid tribute to Mr. King; a former Champion Jockey and Stakes-winning Trainer, who utilized his expertise and intimate knowledge of the industry, to demonstrate outstanding commitment to improving the lives of Canada's Jockeys.
“Robert King Jr. has played a key role in the improvement of Canadian Jockeys' lives, through a number of outstanding achievements over the last 12 years. In his time as ED, the JBAC has been at the forefront of improving Jockeys welfare. Thanks largely to Robert's efforts, the JBAC is in a robust financial position and is a well-established, highly respected and tremendously effective stakeholder association, enthusiastically representing the interests of Canada's Jockeys at a national level. His dedication to putting the safety of the Jockeys at the forefront of racetrack decisions, has demonstrated his passion for the industry and for the Jockey colony.”
King, a veteran of the Thoroughbred industry, has almost 40 years of experience in racing. He rocketed to the top of the standings as an Apprentice Jockey, winning back to back Sovereign Awards as leading apprentice in both 1983 and 1984. King was part of a winning “World Team”, consisting of such International greats Jockeys, such as Steve Cauthen, Pat Eddery and Willie Carson, competing against South Africa, in South Africa. His international success continued in 1987-88, with a year riding stint, in Hong Kong. A successful stint as a Stakes-winning Trainer in the late 1990's led him to the winner's circle on the ground, but the allure of the saddle drew him back to riding in the mid 2000's. In both 2006, and 2007, King reigned in Fort Erie as back to back champion jockey highlighting his success with a six win day, a feat not achieved since 1977. In 2008 he hung up his tack to take over the reins of JBAC, to help his fellow jockeys navigate new rules, increase safety protocols and negotiate better insurance coverage. His depth of experience and passion for the thoroughbred has shone throughout his career and led to his winning of the Avelino Gomez Award in 2009 for outstanding contribution to the sport.
Robert King Jr.'s legacies to the Canadian Jockey Colony and to Canadian Thoroughbred Racing are numerous, but a few stand out as particularly impressive:
1. Created and delivered a long term Permanent and Total Disability (PTD) Insurance Policy for jockeys across Canada.
2. Developed and implemented new whip rules; the Cushioned Whip, improving outcomes for the horses.
3. Increased jockey safety on track by negotiating multiple ambulance on site at Woodbine Racetrack during racing.
4. Advanced a Jockey Concussion Protocol to be released in 2019 improving overall safety of jockeys.
In advising the JBAC Board of his decision, Robert King Jr. said, “I can leave the JBAC knowing the Jockeys now have a collective voice with racetrack management, that they are in a stronger financial position than when I started and most importantly there are more supports for injured Jockeys than ever before.”
Mr. Attard summed up the feelings of the other directors, “The JBAC has been served well by Robert and I am confident the entire Jockey colony would support me in saying that we are in a much better position now compared to 2008 when Robert first joined our organization. On behalf of jockeys across Canada I would like to thank Robert for his dedication to improving the lives of Canadian Jockeys and the entire thoroughbred racing industry. I wish him well on his future endeavours.”
A recruitment process to replace Mr. King is underway.
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