In the art of horseracing, the jockey is the horse’s conductor and master. They are athletes who undergo rigorous training and have a burning drive to excel in the sport. However, there are horseracing enthusiasts that dismiss the jockey, as they feel that the riders contribute only about 5 to 10% to the result of the race.
Fortunately, most professionals directly involved in the sport of horseracing do not share this view. Many believe that a good jockey can improve the chances of a horse winning since the rider can implement strategies that complement the horse’s temperament and personality. So the next time you’re seeking racing tips, factor in the jockey’s performance for a more comprehensive and well-informed decision. Look out for these qualities of a successful jockey in the next race you attend.
Flexible and Adaptable – A good jockey is responsive to change and must adapt to situations instantly while on a race. More than that, they have to be versatile and well rounded, as there are different types of horseraces held on varying surfaces such as turf or dirt. Ideally, they should be competent and reliable when called upon to ride a horse, regardless of the race conditions.
Light and Fit – Maintaining a light weight is one of the downsides of being a horse jockey. But just like other sports like boxing and martial arts with a strict weight class, there are certain fitness expectations on a jockey. The rider’s weight affects the horse’s performance, and that’s why the average jockey only weighs about 50 to 60 kg.
Toughness and Resilience – Racing horses is one of the most dangerous sports for an athlete. Each time they ride a horse, they put their lives on the line with the horse weighing around 10 to 20 times more than the rider and running up to 60 km per hour. In some estimates, there are about 500 recorded falls each year in the sport with over 200 jockeys injured. As such, jockeys need to be healthy and tough in order to bear the challenges of the sport.
Cunning and Smart – Racing horses is not a routine exercise. Every race is different and the jockeys need to formulate strategies and a game plan to outwit the competition. In fact, a good jockey proactively studies the competition and the lay of the track to take advantage of weaknesses and grab opportunities to advance in the race.
Aggressive But Calm – In a horserace, a killer instinct is highly prized. However, good jockeys must also maintain their cool to formulate a logical plan of attack. It’s easy to lose control in the heat of the action, but a professional athlete like a jockey must overcome those strong emotions to think clearly.
Open to Personal Development – Top jockey are always ahead of the trends or new techniques because they are willing to listen and learn. If they don’t grow in their profession, they eventually get passed over for younger newcomers that are trained using the latest technologies and methodologies.
Focused and Determined – Just like in any competition, jockeys have to stay focused on what they need to do to win. That’s why it’s important to maintain a healthy mindset to prevent distractions from ruining their concentration.
Horseracing is really a partnership between the jockey and the horse. Riders with winning qualities have proven time and again that their skill in handling these beautiful beasts have led to victories. Without their guidance, the horse would not be able to reach its full potential in the race. Truly, it’s time jockeys get the recognition they deserve.