How Jockeys Stay in Shape for Horse Racing
Enda McElhinney provides an insight as to how jockeys maintain their fitness and weight.
Jockeys in horse racing live by some of the toughest lifestyle and training regimes across any sport. The lightweight riders have to stay in full control of their weight. Otherwise, they will be too heavy for their ride which could jeopardise their future in the sport. In national hunt racing, jockeys are required to jump over hurdles or fences with their horse. Often, they will pick up injuries which rule them out of the sport for some time - but even during their rehabilitation, they must keep their weight down otherwise they can delay their return to action.
The two biggest races on the national hunt calendar are the Cheltenham Gold and the Grand National where Rule the World was successful back in April 2016. Here is a look at how the best jockeys will prepare and stay in great shape for these prestigious races.
A Disciplined Diet
The right diet is crucial for all jockeys in horse racing but even more important for those who will line up at the Cheltenham Festival in March in what is the biggest week of the year in the sport. If they eat too much they could miss their ride at the meeting. Tom Scudamore, for example, is scheduled to partner Thistlecrack who is the favourite in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup betting – pick your horse and place a bet if you are having a punt in the race. Scudamore will be preparing for this race all year, therefore, to miss out because he has eaten too much would be devastating for the leading national hunt jockey.
To stay in control of their weight throughout a race day, jockeys will consume something light like a piece of toast and a cup of tea. At the end of their rides, they usually eat some fish and vegetables but what is important is that they eat no later than 7 pm otherwise they could struggle to make the weight required for the following day.
Jockeys tend to wake up around 5 am each morning where they have a long day ahead of them. They will usually start with 3- or 4-mile run. This can often help them shed the one or two pounds they need to lose before the afternoon when they arrive at a racecourse.
At the Cheltenham Festival, there is some big prize money to be won. Never before was the prize money more in 2016 as Cue Card was on course to win a £1 million bonus for his connections as he just needed to be successful in the Gold Cup to complete the Chase Triple Crown. Sadly, he and jockey Paddy Brennan came down four fences from home in the race won by Don Cossack – if you want to know more on Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2016 - click here.
Although we are months away from the next Cheltenham Festival, jockeys, trainers and owners will already be planning for the meeting in March. They will try to ensure their horses are in prime condition for what is the biggest week in the sport.
Love of the Sport Keeps Jockeys Motivated
Although jockeys do have to make a lot of sacrifices to stay in control of their weight, it is the love of their sport that keeps them going. Riding winners is their reward and success on big race days can see them earn some valuable prize money which helps them keep going.
Jean Miller has a comprehensive article on "How to Ride a Horse" packed with practical tips and advice.
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About the Author
Enda McElhinney is a sports enthusiast, with a passion for Horse Racing. Away from the racetrack, Enda enjoys researching the sports science behind racing and the training regimes that exist within the sport.
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