RACEHORSE jockeys will soon enjoy an early retirement as the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading a bill that would allow them to retire at 55 years old.

“Lowering the retirement age of jockeys is a must for them to enjoy the fruits of their career and avoid accidents during actual race that may cause serious injuries, even death, to both jockeys and horse,” said Valenzuela Representative Magtanggol Gunigundo.

For updates from around the country, follow Sun.Star on Twitter

Gunigundo said the objective of the HB 6511 or the proposed Race Horse Jockeys’ Retirement Act Of 2009 is to set the compulsory retirement age for jockeys at 55 years old.

The bill seeks to amend Presidential Decree 442 otherwise known as the Labor Code of the Philippines, by adding a new article 287-A reducing the retirement age of race horse jockeys from 60 to 55.

The Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom), which is the regulatory body governing the racing industry, has set the retirement age of jockeys at 55 years.

But as pointed out by Gunigundo, the retired jockeys still need to wait for five years more, or upon reaching the age of 60, before they could avail themselves of their retirement benefits.

Gunigundo, chairman of the House committee on labor and employment, also stressed the risks that jockeys face.

“Racehorse jockeys are required to be in tip-top shape at all times and should maintain the 100-pound limit. They are also obliged to do strenuous activities with their mount, and during actual competition they compete at breakneck speed to engross the horse owner and amuse the audience.”

Dr. Benjamin Vitasa, Executive Director of the Employee’s Compensation Commission (ECC), said that a jockey’s prime is at 30 years old and when he reaches 40 years old, the jockey’s riding ability is already diminished.

The Philippine Jockeys Association (PJA) had earlier supported the passage of the bill. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)