A Jockeying Rethink: British Regulatory Body Revamps Horse Racing Standards
In the U.K. the sport of horse racing could look a lot different in the coming years, as the British Horseracing Authority—with the help of other industry bodies—tightens the standards for jockeys, with an eye on improving professional development.
The United Kingdom’s largest horse racing group is raising its standards for jockeys. And a big reason for that involves resources.
This week, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced a new approach to licensing and accepting jockeys as part of its system, with a focus on better training and development, along with setting a high bar for the jockeys who end up taking part in races.
The reason for this change, the result of a multiyear review, is twofold. First, BHA wants to better equip its best jockeys for long-term success, through stronger, more regimented curriculum that helps ensure that elite jockeys are properly prepared for the task.
“A more efficient and extensive assessment process can help aspiring jockeys who have a genuine chance of success to receive the first-class levels of support and guidance they require,” BHA CEO Nick Rust said in a news release.
Second, the regulatory group also noted in the release that, simply, there were too many jockeys—and that this hurt the sport’s development.
“The enhancements are also designed to address the present situation in which racing is spending considerable resources training individuals who may not become successful,” the association explained. “Too many jockeys also mean reduced opportunities for riders who might make the grade. Currently 30 percent of licensing course attendees do not ride a winner and 88 percent do not ride out their claim.”
The approach that led to this solution was a collaborative one, with the Professional Jockeys Association, National Trainers Federation, and the Jockeys Employment and Training Scheme all assisting with the research process. In comments on the approach, Amateur Jockeys Association CEO Sarah Oliver described the end result as being beneficial to the sport as a whole.
“Today’s jockeys have much to contend with in their everyday lives, and a more rigorous entry criteria can only benefit the sport in the long term,” Oliver said, according to the release. “It’s also good to know that they will be kept under the watchful eye of a jockey coach during this important time whilst they embark upon their professional careers.”
The new licensing approach will take effect April 1.