Retirement looms for clerk of the scales

TAYLER STRONG
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014
John Mills and Michelle Northcott
TAYLER STRONG
WEIGHING OUT: John Mills weighs in Michelle Northcott after her win on Mr Nobody in the amateur riders' race at Wingatui.

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John Mills is nearing the end of 21 years weighing jockeys.

Mills, 73 will step down as clerk of the scales for race meetings in Otago and Southland at the end of the racing season on July 31.

He has been a clerk of scales since taking early retirement from working in the government and health sector. He was director of corporate services for the Health Board when he stepped down after 34 years.

''I was looking for part time work and spoke with John Rosevear, then secretary of the Otago Racing Club and other clubs in Otago ,'' recalled Mills, of Dunedin.

Mills had been a member of the committee of the Waikouaiti Racing Club.

''I was then approached by Doug Stuart to help out with the Gallop South clubs and ended up doing about 40 meetings in Otago and Southland for the past seven years.''

He is required to weigh out the jockeys for each race, record the weight with allowances for apprentices. He then weighs in the jockeys after the race to ensure they have carried the correct weight.

''All jockeys have to be weighed in. I used to only weigh in the first six. Another change is that each jockey has to wear a safety vest,'' he said.

An allowance of one kilogram is made for the vest. The safety helmet, goggles and whip are excluded from the weight carried by the jockey or apprentice and allotted the horse by the handicapper of New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

''The biggest change I have seen is the switch from weekend racing. Now racing is on just about every day of the week.''

He said the first meeting of the Otago Racing Club held on conjunction with the Melbourne Cup in November, 2004, was probably the biggest occasion he had experienced.

Mills was a justice of the Peace for 30 years until his retirement from that position two years ago.

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- The Southland Times

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