• Eating habits and body weight control methods of national hunt and flat race jockeys in the UK

      Fallows, Stephen; Higham, Arabella (University of Chester, 2012)
      Horse racing is a high risk sport requiring jockeys to have strength, balance, cardiovascular fitness, specific handling skills and the ability to maintain high levels of concentration. Racing's handicapping system makes it unique because the ability of the horse determines the jockey's weight with jockets being required to make weight repeatedly and for prolonged periods year round. Jockeys must weight-out 30 minutes prior to a race and maintain their weight throughout to weight-in immediently after with no opportunity to refuel or rehydrate. The challenges of making weight appear to be an entrenched and accepted culture of the sport. Forty-six jockeys (29 National Hunt, 12 Flat and 5 Dual Purpose) completed a 27 item questionnaire designed to gather information on the methods of weight control used and the perceived associated negative physiological or psychological effects. National Hunt jockeys were taller (p=0.006) and significantly heavier at their non-racing weight and lowest racing weights than flat (p=0.000; p=0.000) and dual purpose jockeys (p=0.001; p=0.004). Dual purpose jockeys were heavier than flat jockeys at their non-racing and lowest racing weights (p=0.008; p=0.002). Only National Hunt jockeys had a significantly heavier non-racing weight than lowest racing weight (p=0.000). Rapid weight loss methods were used 1+/-1.5 days prior to a race. There were no significant differences between weight control methods, perceived negative effects or between jockey codes. Several weight control methods were associated with a number of negative physiological and psychological effects. The strongest correlations existed for weight control methods promoting dehydration, fluid restruction, sauna, holt salt bath and exercise induced sweating. Jockeys often have low levels of body fat and increased muscle mass and therefore induce dehydration to further reduce their body weight. Jockey code does not influence weight control demands as flat jockeys tend to be naturally shorter and lighter than their National Hunt counterparts.