Owner Nabil Mourad and jockey Christophe Soumillon with African Ride
Jockeys are constantly engaged in a battle with their weight. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Some of the world’s most respected veterinary experts, researchers, nutritionists and thinkers gathered at the Meydan Hotel to tackle key issues on day one of the International Conference for the Health, Safety and Welfare of Jockeys.

Beginning the review the opening session looked systematically at bone health and jockey weight standards.

It is a well-known fact that jockeys, both professional and apprentices, are constantly engaged in a battle, sometimes titanic, with their weight.

Records show that a substantial proportion of the professional jockeys have below normal bone mineral density, low body mass index (BMI) and high bone turnover that may result from weight and dietary restrictions.

These findings reveal that as a result of their insubstantial bone health, jockeys are exposed to a high fracture risk and that should be remedied.

Former jockey Dr George Wilson, who has spent years researching the health implications of extreme weight-making in jockeys, had a pragmatic view to the debate.

“From the data that we’ve seen it is clear that most apprentices from Great Britain don’t make the minimum weight,” he said. “We looked at 67 apprentices and only two made the weight.

“So my view was that you need to get smaller jockeys or at least one that make the minimum the weight (46kg).

“Within that same session we looked at bone density in jockeys and the fact the jockeys have abnormal bone density scores and that we need further investigations into the health of that bone, which we’re looking at.”

Sponsored by Al Basti Equiworld, the internationally renowned distributor of equine equipment, feeds and veterinary medicines, the conference is organised by the European Medical Officers Group (EMA) and is held under the auspices of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA).

The conference will also focus the care of paralysed jockeys, developing partnerships to enhance safety and well-being of jockeys, the physiological demands placed on both flat and jump jockeys during racing and the ever evolving process of concussion management.

In addition, representatives from the 16 participating countries will provide regional updates before the conference concludes on Friday evening with a presentation on behalf of the International Jockeys Associations and a concluding speech by Denis Egan, Chairman of the International Conference for the Health, Safety and Welfare of Jockeys.