Jockey’s are among the most hardworking sportsmen and women in the world. Clocking up thousands of miles on the road, and if your good enough or lucky enough, get to travel the world a little bit.
It is also important to learn to live with not much sleep. During evening meeting’s, which take place mainly during late spring and throughout the summer and don’t forget that all weather tracks host evening meetings all year round. The point I am trying to make is that a jockey could be riding in a race at 9:00pm and must face a three or four hour journey home.
Then the following morning they must be up early, say about 5:30am for example to ride work at a trainer’s stable. Although to most people being a jockey is a way of life and not a job. A typical morning at the stables riding work on the horses could last 4-5 hours, depending on if or where you will be racing at that afternoon.
If your based in Newmarket and there is a meeting at HQ that afternoon, then morning work will last a bit longer. However, if you are at York, up in northern England, then you will be on the road for close to four hours. And that is the same journey to make after you’ve finished racing for the day.
At the same time jockey’s are constantly watching their weight. Sometimes travelling on an empty stomach, which is not the best idea while driving, but it is part and parcel of being a jockey.
The great AP McCoy was renowned for travelling 5-6 hours to take just one ride at tracks like Ayr in Scotland or Ffos Las in Wales. And sometimes, it would all end at the first fence or hurdle. And if AP was okay, it would be back up the road again for the long journey. Of course, AP employed his own driver so that made the long journey’s not quite as enduring.
As we all know, for some jockeys it is a struggle to make a living out of their passion. And with that brings its own pressure if you’re having to support your family. It can be a lonely place and the journey home will seem twice as long. Jockeys are among the most extreme athletes in the world, with their dangerous profession, long hours on the road, battles with the scales and not to forget the hard graft and dedication that is required. Jockeys, we salute you!
Article by Jamie Lindsey