GB Apprentice Jockeys Do Not Have the Body Composition to Make Current Minimum Race Weights: Is It Time to Change the Weights or Change the Jockeys?

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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  • 1 Liverpool John Moores University
  • 2 British Horseracing Authority
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Flat jockeys in Great Britain (GB) are classified as apprentices if they are aged less than 26 years and/or have ridden less than 95 winners. To gain experience, apprentices are allocated a weight allowance of up to 7 lb (3.2 kg). Given that there is no off-season in GB flat horseracing, jockeys are required to maintain their racing weight all year round. In light of recent work determining that current apprentices are considerably heavier than previous generations and that smaller increases have been made in the minimum weight, the aim of this study was to assess if the minimum weight in GB was achievable. To make the minimum weight (50.8 kg) with the maximal weight allowance requires a body mass of ∼46.6 kg while maintaining a fat mass >2.5 kg (the lowest fat mass previously reported in weight-restricted males). Thirty-two male apprentice jockeys were assessed for body composition using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. The mean (SD) total mass and fat mass were 56 (2.9) kg and 7.2 (1.8) kg, respectively. Given that the lowest theoretical body mass for this group was 51.2 (2.3) kg, only one of 32 jockeys was deemed feasible to achieve the minimum weight with their current weight allowance and maintaining fat mass >2.5 kg. Furthermore, urine osmolality of 780 (260) mOsmol/L was seen, with 22 (out of 32) jockeys classed as dehydrated (>700 mOsmols/L), indicating that body mass would be higher when euhydrated. Additionally, we observed that within new apprentice jockeys licensed during this study (N = 41), only one jockey was able to achieve the minimum weight. To facilitate the goal of achieving race weight with minimal disruptions to well-being, the authors’ data suggest that the minimum weight for GB apprentices should be raised.

Wilson, Martin, Morton, and Close are with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercises Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Hill is with British Horseracing Authority, London, United Kingdom.

Wilson (G.wilson1@ljmu.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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