Riding Weights Set to Rise in Ireland

Riding weights in Ireland could soon rise sharply following the preliminary results of a study into the body weights of jockeys and evidence of dehydration.

Minimum weights are set to rise by at least seven pounds in Ireland. The current minimum on the flat is eight stones (112 pounds) and nine stones, 10 pounds (136 pounds) over jumps before any jockey claims are taken off.

The study, which was carried out on behalf of the Irish Turf Club by the National Coaching and Training Center (NCTC) at Limerick University, revealed strong worries over dehydration, bone density, and body fat levels in jockeys.

Dehydration problems identified in the study were proved at the Curragh on June 25 when voluntary tests were carried out on 18 jockeys. These tests confirmed unacceptably high levels of dehydration both before and during racing in 13 of the riders tested.

The NCTC study, which looked at the body weights of 27 jockeys (17 flat and 10 jump jockeys), arose out of the safety review by the Turf Club following the deaths of two riders after racecourse falls in 2003.

There will now be a consultative process to introduce a new weight structure for both flat and jump racing at the start of next season. Also planned is an education program to show riders the importance of hydration, dietary control, and physiotherapy. Jockeys may be screened medically each year.

The study will also be discussed at the meeting of European medical officers in Dublin on July 19, which could also lead to higher weights in other jurisdictions.