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Jockey

Job Description: 

You would enter the industry as an Apprentice Jockey and work with a Jockey, Trainer or Owner to progress to become a Jockey after gaining the experience before becoming registered. 

A Jockey is a highly trained professional who will be contracted by a licensed trainer to ride their horses at public race meetings.  They may race either on the flat (on a race track without obstacles) or across jumps (known as National Hunt racing). Jockeys usually specialises in either flat or jump racing, although some take part in both. 

Work would include:

  • Planning racing strategies with the owner and trainer
  • Taking advice from the trainer on tactics to suit the horse and the track
  • Riding every day to train and exercise the horses 
  • Riding at flat or jump races at race tracks around the UK.
Working Conditions: 

A Jockey would work around 40 to 45 hours a week depending on the number of races they take part in. There will be a significant amount of travelling involved as jockeys are required to attend races at courses throughout the UK. 

The work is physically demanding, often involving early starts and late finishes.

Equestrian businesses are often a long way from town; sometimes in quite remote areas. Therefore a driving licence may be useful.

There is high risk of injury from falls and kicks when working around horses so it important to ensure you are protected therefore Jockeys should wear suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including riding boots, waterproofs, suitable outdoor clothing, a body protector and a hard hat when riding.

Salary & Other Benefits: 

A Jockey will receive a riding fee and a percentage of any prize money won. It may also be possible for some Jockeys to secure a sponsorship deals.

Skills: 
  • Identifying, planning and setting programmes to improve your technical skills, physical capabilities and sporting commitments
  • Recognise signs of equine illness and deliver basic health care treatment to horses
  • Introduce young horses to equipment for the schooling of racehorses
  • Ride racehorses to improve performance
  • Assist with designing training programmes for racehorses
  • A high level of skill in riding and handling horses
  • Maintaining the health and well being of equines.
Personal Qualities: 
  • The ability to work well with others
  • Good eyesight and fast reaction speeds
  • Determination and dedication
  • Fitness, strength and stamina.
Qualifications and training: 

There are a variety of qualifications and training opportunities that can help you:

  • Learn more about your chosen area
  • find employment
  • improve your current skills
  • gain promotion
  • enhance job satisfaction

This a link to the Register of Regulated Qualification held by Ofqual and has been set up to search for a range qualifications in Equine Qualifications.  As this search includes all qualifications at different levels and different kinds, you may need to seek further assistance with your tutor or a local college as to the best ones to suit your needs. The qualifications listed on this website are suited if you are resident in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For those of you living in Scotland you need to search for qualifications with the Scottish Qualifications Authority. You will need to choose the type of qualification you are looking for and then search for qualifications available in Equine

You may also wish to find out about apprenticeships available in Equine and further information can be found on the National Apprenticeship Service website http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/ for England.

If you are living in Wales follow this link to the Welsh Government website for more information about apprenticeships http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/skillsandtraining/apprenticeships/?lang=en

If you are living in Northern Ireland this is the link to Department for Education and Learning for more information on apprenticeships http://www.delni.gov.uk/apprenticeshipsni

If you are living Scotland following this link for more information on modern apprenticeship available http://www.skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk/our-services/modern-apprenticeships/

Getting In: 

Jockeys usually start off working as a stable hand (also known as groom), work rider or as an apprentice, doing tasks like filling hay nets, sweeping the yard, mucking out stables, grooming, feeding and watering horses, and taking horses through exercises.

A Jockey’s weight limit is about 9 stone 7lbs as a Jump Jockey and about 8 stone as a Flat Jockey.

The first step to become a Professional Jockey is to become employed on a racing yard as an Apprentice (flat racing) or Conditional Jockey (Jump Racing) and then attend many training courses in the process.

An Apprentice or Conditional Jockey receives training on the job. The trainer is responsible for choosing suitable horses to ride and deciding when apprentice/Conditional Jockeys are competent and ready to race (usually after about two years).

Apprentice /Conditional Jockeys then apply to the British Horseracing Authority for a license to ride. This includes a 5-day residential Apprentice or Conditional License course and a medical at the BRS in Newmarket or the NRC in Doncaster. 

Once the license, is awarded, an apprentice or Conditional Jockey would complete the Apprenticeship at the trainer's yard. You would usually do this between the ages of 16 and 25 (27 for racing over jumps), after which you can become a Professional Jockey.

To keep the license, Jockeys then need to continue their development by taking a 4-day Apprentice or Conditional Continuation course and an advanced Apprentice or Conditional course.

Getting On: 

There are more than 550 racing stables around the country, mainly in rural areas. Employment prospects for trained stable hands are usually good but progression to apprentice Jockey is difficult and becoming a successful Professional Jockey even more so.

A Professional Jockey may work for one trainer or owner, or ride for different trainers and owners as a self-employed jockey. There are opportunities to work for stables overseas, especially in Dubai, Japan and the USA.

Jockeys usually retire from riding by age 45 (35 for jump jockeys). At the end of the racing career, Jockeys can get advice on retraining and employment from the Jockeys Employment and Training Scheme.

Further Information: 

Additional information can be found from the following organisations and publications:

Industry information

Publications, magazines and journals (some may be priced): 

  • The Racing Post
  • Racing Ahead
  • Horse and Hound.
A to Z: 
Industry: 

Apprentice Jockey - Claire Murray

“I decided on a career in racing as I’ve always loved horses” says 23-year-old Apprentice Jockey Claire Murray from Ossett, near Wakefield. Claire started in the industry in 2006 when she left school and undertook a 12 week residential foundation course at the Northern Racing College (NRC).