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Horse Racing: Betfair's Apiafi is confirmed as new jockeys' supremo.

Byline: By Graham Green

JOSH APIAFI, a notably unsuccessful amateur rider for Martin Pipe, is to become the new leader of the Jockeys' Association on November 1.

The appointment as chief executive of a 32-year-old with strong links to the gambling industry breaks new ground for the trade body, but in addition to his professional credentials, Apiafi's friendly disposition means he is already well known throughout the sport, including to a large number of jockeys. He is also a familiar figure at the BHA.

The JAGB had planned to make the announcement at its annual general meeting at Doncaster next Wednesday, but sent a text message to its members yesterday morning when a report appeared in the Racing Post.

Apiafi, Betfair's director of horseracing for the past five years, gets a second chance to impress the weighing room, this time with his leadership talents, after beating around 30 applicants for the post that has been vacant since the unexplained departure after four years of John Blake in May.

Since then, JAGB company secretary Ann Saunders has assumed the chief executive's responsibilities and she will continue to fill the breach until Apiafi takes charge.

Saunders said: "The JAGB is delighted with the appointment of Josh Apiafi, and we are confident that he will take the association forward to a new and exciting stage in its history. Most importantly, he will relate closely to our members, many of whom he already knows."

Apiafi's sole success from around 100 rides under rules came aboard Faithful Star in a hunter chase at Uttoxeter in 1995 for Pipe, with whom he was also pupil-assistant, but his cv in the saddle is supplemented by three victories in the point-to-point arena. Before joining Betfair, he ran his own marketing company, Racing Link.

Apiafi said: "It's long been an ambition of mine to move into this area of the sport, and to have landed the JAGB role at a time when there is so much potential out there for jockeys is fantastic.

"The JAGB has a great history and it has to be remembered that our members, along with the horses, are the stars of the sport. After hearing the thoughts of Nic Coward at the Racehorse Owners' Association agm and also in interviews within the media, I'm really looking forward to discussing the opportunity of partnerships with him, which we're both keen to see come to the fore."

Coward, chief executive of the BHA, welcomed the appointment, saying: "The representation of jockeys and the public's perception of them is important to a healthy racing industry and we look forward to working with Josh in his important new role.

"I would also like to thank Ann Saunders for all her efforts during a period of change for the Jockeys' Association and we hope Josh can continue to maintain the positive relationship she has developed."

JAGB joint-president Tony McCoy said: "I've known Josh for some time at both a business and personal level and I'm confident that he will be a proactive chief executive of the association."

Kevin Darley, the other joint-president, added: "Josh will be concentrating on increasing the income for the benefit of the members, while at the same time addressing the many current issues that affect our members and racing generally."

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Josh Apiafi: rode as an amateur for Martin Pipe
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 5, 2007
Words:556
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