The world’s population has grown bigger on average and that’s a fact, those weight limits have sometimes put dangerous pressure on flat jockeys and if the weight restrictions stay as they are it’s only a matter of time before somebody takes it too far wasting and goes beyond redemption.
There isn’t considerable recent data on the subject, but a study from 1998 found more than 67 percent of jockeys skipped meals or sweated off pounds in saunas. Roughly one in three where required to lose weight.
The clear majority of flat jockeys whom we have spoken with want the weights raised as they see it’s a real struggle day and daily meeting the strict weights. It’s only the smaller build riders – around 7st 8lb – that want the current situation to stay the same, because they will not be in such demand if it changes kicks in.
The situation is related to bulimia and alcohol abuse, and it has been a problem for a long time in the weighing room. Some riders drink a serious amount of alcohol the night before a meeting to make their dehydration more severe, which then helps them make the weight. It’s common but not exposed as the old saying goes “desperate people do desperate things”. Others make themselves sick it’s almost accepted in the modern-day game which is seriously Worrying however HRI are doing all they can to help educate the younger riders but there still is always room for more improvement.
It is a huge worry that when jockeys retire they will take these health problems with them and they will have to live with the permanent damage forever.
The hefty argument that surrounds the media is modern jockeys are not as disciplined as those of the past is nonsense. You could take any 10 jockeys and they would all be dedicated and professional. As for the dangers to horses from heavier jockeys, that is rubbish too. Even young horses ride out every morning with big stable lads and heavy tack, sometimes more than 12st.
There is no doubt that some high-profile riders really suffer during a race. You look at them trotting to the start and they look like shadows of them self – you could blow them over, they are clearly not in the right shape mentality or physical to contest in the races, but nothing is done or noted.
I’m not suggesting anything extreme, just a change of a allowing a few more pounds could make the world of difference and try to help protect jockeys in the future in this sport that is so demanding on their health.