How Champion Jockeys Train

A glimpse into the routines of expert horse riders.

I grew up in rural England, and one of the most popular sports near me was horse riding, my local race course was Towcester.  Towcester is one of the smallest courses in the country, but where the real action (and money) is won is at the major festivals.

Jockeys may seem like they only rely on a horse’s speed to win but what most people don’t know is that they train as hard as Olympic athletes. When you ride a horse that runs as fast as a car, you have to be able to keep your balance. That’s why jockeys follow a strict training routine in order to transform their body into something that’s capable of withstanding wind pressure and horseback-riding stress.

In Hong Kong where horse racing is a passion, jockeys who participate in the events are rewarded handsomely. A CNN article reported that Hong Kong jockeys can earn as much as $6.5 million dollars in one racing season alone.

$6.5 million is no joke, which is why thousands of people try to become jockeys every year. And to the people who think that the paycheck is too big for a person who “just rides horses,” take a look at their training routine below. You might change your mind after seeing how tedious it is to become an efficient jockey.

Best Champion Jockey of All time?

Having finally hung up his spurs, AP McCoy is proably regarded as one of the finest Champion Jockey of all time.  All of the details from this post came from his autobiography My Life.  If you really want to get in the mind of a Champion Jockey then is book is well worth the read.

Tony McCoy: My Life – on Amazon

Body Conditioning

According to jockey trainers, the ideal body weight of a flat racing jockey is around 116 pounds and 135 pounds for jump jockeys. The tricky part is to always have a body mass that’s around the aforementioned weights. Obviously, being overweight is out of the question. Also, a jockey must be mindful in building too much muscle in order to avoid the extra weight.

Should a horse require its rider to be light, a jockey must be ready to lose weight and adjust his eating habits to one meal a day. Swimming, cycling, and running regularly are just some of the activities that professional jockeys take part in regularly in order to stay in shape.

Workout schedule

Around 70% of a jockey’s training is done on top of the horse. The routine is usually done 7 times a week and lasts more than 4 hours a day. Cantering and building up the horse’s endurance start very early in the morning.

In a video posted on Betfair’s Cheltenham page , you can see that the training of Paul Nicholls’ horses and jockeys are done early in the morning and will be followed by a series of other exercises. When a race day is near, more hours are added to a jockey’s training especially in huge events like the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National in London.

Diet Plan

With the heavy training that jockeys undergo every day, one would think that they can at least eat whatever they want. However, a jockey’s diet is all about restrictions and portions. Professional jockeys are careful not to eat a lot of red meat since it tends to stay in the system for a long time. In addition, overloading on carbohydrates is a big no-no. Fish, vegetables, and a little bit of carbohydrates obtained from bread, rice, or noodles are staples in the diets of jockeys.

With the strict training they undergo and severe restrictions in eating, one can only wonder if they still have time for their personal lives. After all, being a jockey is all about being in shape all the time and sacrificing most of your social life in the process to achieve perfection in racing. Is the $6.5 million reward still too big for them?

It sounds pretty reasonable if you ask me.

Tony McCoy: My Life – on Amazon