If you are struggling getting the post-lockdown kilos off in the middle of winter, spare a thought for some of New Zealand's elite jockeys.

From next week, riding weights throughout the country return to normal for some races, which isn't a lot of fun for plenty of jockeys.

The usual allotted weights carried by all thoroughbred horses, made up of the jockey and saddle, rose 2kg when Covid-19 initially hit New Zealand, giving jockeys the option to add an extra 2kg to their frames as it was deemed to be in the interests of their health at a dangerous time.

That 2kg weights boost reduced to 1kg when thoroughbred racing came out of lockdown but from the start of the new racing season, on Saturday week, weights will move back to where they were in March.


But it will come with a staggered introduction for many races, explains New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing general manager of racing Tim Aldridge.

"It is complicated by the fact we are going to have open entry races for August and September," says Aldridge.

"So from August 1 the weights for maiden races and R65, which we are reintroducing, will return to normal, so no more 1kg handicapping boost for those types of races.

"But we are going to continue with open-entry races and they need a bigger spread of weights because there are very different ratings bands of horses involved.

"So we are going to propose those races reduce from a topweight of 63kg to a top of 62kg and minimum of 54kg.

"But they will end in October and effectively, to explain it to punters as simply as possible, by October we will be back to the same weights system as last season."

That means any jockey picking up rides at 61-63kg now is going to need to be back at 60kg at the maximum to have any chance of regular rides come October.

Aldridge agrees there are two sides to the weight debate, with some of our top riders being those who struggle the most.


"We hear from some jockeys who struggle with their weight that people everywhere as getting bigger and therefore weights should rise," explains Aldridge.

"The trainers generally, but not always, don't like their horses carrying more weight than they have to so they would mainly prefer it going to back to the way it was."

The weights for the classics and major age-group races have not and will not be changing.

Meanwhile, post-lockdown racing has seen all horses earn a stake of $300 back to last in the uniform $15,000 races and that will continue in the new season.

That could see the last horse home in a $10,000 maiden race get $200 which means owners won't have to fork out for the riding fee.

NZTR will also not charge entry and acceptance fees on normal races next season; that $1.7 million loss of income covered by them having to pay stakes for fewer races next season as their calendar tightens up.