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Foreign jockey hopes for visa rethink

South African jockey Keagan Latham is adept at riding on the flat, but he must clear a massive hurdle that threatens to throw his career off track in Australia.

Latham has his maiden Sydney metropolitan ride at Warwick Farm on Wednesday and although Nothing Too Hard is rated $101, the odds of success elsewhere are more concerning.

A federal government decision last month to scrap the 457 working visa scheme means Latham and hundreds of other foreigners could be lost to the equine industry.

“Unfortunately it’s thrown a huge spanner in the works,” Latham, who is in Australia on a one-year working holiday visa, said.

He hoped to upgrade to a 457 but is now pinning his hopes on an extension, and a change of heart from Canberra.

Durban-born Latham is based at Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott’s operation at Randwick having arrived in December following an unfulfilling two-year stint England.

He had raced there previously when based in Ireland for four years but a full-time move was problematic.

“Things didn’t really go my way. It’s a very hard place to break into. I probably arrogantly thought I would do a bit better than I did because I’d been there before,” he said.

Regardless of what happens bureaucratically, Latham will at least have a city ride on his resume when he guides the Paul Perry-trained Nothing Too Hard though the gelding’s second start in the Vinery Plate Handicap (1300m) for two-year-olds.

“It’ll be nice to get my name out there in the city ranks. Obviously that’s where the big boys ride,” Latham said.

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