The Spring Racing Carnival has arrived.
For some of us that means admiring the beautiful horses, while for others it’s studying the form guide over a few drinks at Flemington or judging the fashions on the field.
Jockeys often play second fiddle to the amazing beasts that rocket them down the straight.
So let’s turn our minds to these intriguing sportspeople with some jockey trivia.
Frank Hayes is the only deceased jockey to ever win a race
In 1923 in New York, stablehand Hayes somehow convinced the owner of Sweet Kiss to let him ride in a race. Sadly, Hayes had a heart attack midway through the steeplechase and died. Somehow, his body stayed upright through to the finish line. The horse, Sweet Kiss, was known from then on as ‘Sweet Kiss of Death’.
The lightest jockey currently on record is Giovanni Porte of Italy at an estimated 40 kilograms
Jockey weights are a constant source of debate. Some argue that minimum weights should be lifted in line with the average person becoming heavier and taller, while others argue that horses shouldn’t have to carry any more weight.
Peter St Albans is the youngest jockey to win the Melbourne Cup
St Albans was six days off turning 13 in 1876 – the required age to race. His voice hadn’t even broken yet. To get around the age barrier, it was argued that Peter didn’t have a birth certificate, and that his real name and age were unknown.
Frank Reys was the first Indigenous jockey to win the Melbourne Cup
Peter St Albans’ lack of birth certificate created a myth that he was Indigenous, and therefore the first Indigenous jockey to win the Cup. However, it was actually Reys, who, as a 41 year old, made history in 1973 when he guided Gala Supreme to victory.
Jockeys have traditionally been men, but the number of females in the sport is increasing
Clare Lindop is one of Australia’s best jockeys, winning 12.3 per cent of her rides and placing in 34.9 per cent of them. In 2003, Lindop was the first Australian woman to ride in the Melbourne Cup, and has now competed in the race three times.
An apprentice jockey is known as a “bug boy”
“Bug boys” can blame this on the asterisk that follows their name in the race programs – it looks like a bug. Jockeys must be licensed before they can ride in races, and this involves successfully riding in 20 barrier trials.
Jockeys are not allowed to race a horse they own or have a share in
Horse racing has a huge betting culture, and jockeys and trainers can get into a lot of trouble for betting on or fixing races – even sentenced to jail.
Since records began, over 800 Australian jockeys have lost their lives riding
Many jockeys suffer debilitating injuries that keep them off the horse for months at a time, or worse, permanently. Luckily The National Jockeys Trust is there to help. With the help of financial supporters such as LUCRF Super, the trust has assisted hundreds of jockeys and their families since 2004.
In most races, jockeys only receive five per cent of the winnings
Jockeys accept a flat fee for each race they ride, and can pick up five per cent of the money they win from the horse’s owner. For that reason, jockeying is not a particularly lucrative sport unless you’re at the top.
Jockeys have to be super light to ride in horse races
Jockeys typically weigh between 49–54 kilograms and have to work very hard to maintain their size by sitting in saunas and following strict (and sometimes dangerous) diets.
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