How Do I Become a Jockey ? Nick Higgins
Updated 21.04.2012
Laura Howarth at the British Racing School in Newmarket. Laura was one of the successful graduates from the 2003 intake and is now working very happily at a yard in the north of England in her quest to become a jockeyA lot of people e-mail me with this question, especially young people from the US, in the main.

The first thing one can say is that there is no real defined career path for people to become a jockey. Whilst this is advantageous in that you can succeed if you are good, the lack of a path means that it is difficult to enrol into the sport and find about what is required to become a jockey.

The picture to the right is of Laura Howarth. Laura was one of the successful graduates from the 2003 intake at British Racing School in Newmarket. Laura is working very happily at a yard in the north of England in her quest to become a jockey.

Hopefuly, the updated details below will give you a few tips and useful contact details to get you going. Yoo too could become a jockey! Good luck.

The most obvious requirement is that one needs to weigh ideally no more than 52.5kgs, 116 lbs or 8stone 4lbs (for flat racing) or 62kgs, 136 lbs or 62kgs (for Jumps)in order to secure rides from trainers. In flat races, allowing for 3lbs for riding clothes and saddle soon puts one at 54kgs, the weight most flat races begin to be weighted at in most countries.

In the US, for the flat, ideally one needs to be a bit lighter, about 110 pounds (50kgs) as weights tend to be about 3/4 lbs lighter.

Photo courtesy of To stay light means one has to keep the calories down. Often jockeys eat no more than a piece of toast and a few cups of tea throughout the day.If you want to see what a jump jockey eats during the week, click on Carl Lllewelyn's photo

Height is less of a pre-requisite although it will govern your weight and aerodynamics in the saddle.
However, Lester Piggott was 5 ft 7 1/2 inches tall and Richard Hughes of the UK is 5ft 10 inches.

16 years and upwards. From this age you can enroll with an apprentice school or join a trainer.
It is also the legal age where you can start riding in competitive races. In some countries, like Spain, one can start riding in races as an amateur at the age of 14 before becoming a professional at the age of 16. So check with your local racing administration about what is possible.

Grades at School
You don't have to have any academic qualifications to be a jockey or start as an apprentice.
However, athletic ability and a fair amount of common sense are very important.

Horse People
Above all, we would state that before becoming a jockey one needs to be a "Horse man/woman". It is imperative that one understands the origins of horses, their nature, breeding, feeding patterns, gait analysis, breathing patterns, conformation, work routines, shoeing, etc, in addition to starting to ride a horse.

Racing & Jockeys
The best jockeys have arrived at where they are through many hard years of sacrifice and often, travel.

It has been well documented, after Cochrane & Dettori's recent plane accident, that some jockeys may ride at 3 different race meetings per day.
This, at the height of summer, can involve riding in 12 races per day having perhaps ridden 4/5 horses in work in the mornings.
Rarely does a busy jockey get to bed before 11pm and they are often up at 5am.

There is also the phsychology of racing & jockeys.
--Study how they manage themselves before a race.
--How do they greet connections in the paddock?

--How do they get on with a horse in the canter to the start ?
--Are they relaxing the horse in the stalls?

--During the race, is the horse pulling?
--Or have they managed to relax the horse?

--Does the jockey in question have tactical acumen?
--Does he handle media pressure well?

If you have a grasp of the above concepts you will be ready to move on to thinking about race riding. For a flavour of it, try this interesting link where Russell Baze, top US jockey, talks you through riding a horse-race

If you would like to pursue a career as a jockey, you could try enrolling with

The British Racing School's web site
The Bristish Racing School
Snailwell Road,
Suffolk CB8 7NU.
Tel: +44 (0) 1638 665 103
Fax: +44 (0) 1638 560 929 .....e-mail British Racing School

The Northern Racing College's web site

e-mail The NRC

or contact the

UK Jockeys' Association,
39B Kingfisher Court,
Hambridge Road,
Berks RG14 5SJ
Tel: +44 (0) 1635 44102

As of 2002, there is also an excellent new web site called "Careers in Racing" mainly geared to the employment in the UK industry but still worth a look by clicking on the link on the right.

Jockeys also have a life after retiring from Racing. Increasingly, they have to plan for this stage as well.

Take a look at JETS......The Jockeys Employment & Training Scheme which a lot of jockeys are finding very useful.

Other useful contacts in other countries:

R.A.C.E.....Racing Academy and Center of Education..the jockey academy in Ireland

The French racing academy, AFASEC

President: Claudio Bertolini,
Associazione Nazionale Fantini (Jockeys' Association),
Via E Montale 9,
20150 Milan,
Tel: +39 (0)2 4521 234...Fax: +39 (0)2 4820 2297

Manager: Mr.Toshio Inoue,
Japan Horse Racing School,
835-1 Ne,
Inba-gun Chiba 270-1431,
Tel: +81 (0)474 91 0333...Fax: +81 (0)474 91 3601

Japan Jockeys' Association,
President: Mr.Yukio Okabe,
Miho Training Centre,
2500-2 Mikoma,
Ibaragi 300-0415,
Tel: +81 (0)298 85 1629...Fax: +81 (0)298 85 5064

...Visit the Frank Garza Jockey School in California

University of Arizona Racetrack Industry Program
P.O.Box 210069,
AZ 85721-0069,
Tel: +1 520 621 5660..Fax: +1 52621 8239
Arizona's Race Track Industry Prgram has produced industry leaders for over 27 years.

University of Louisville, Kentucky
College of Business & Public Administration
KY 40292,
Tel: 1 502 852 7617...Fax: +1 502 852 7672
Equine Industry Program at the UNIVERSITY of LOUISVILLE.
4 year undergraduate business program designed to train students in the horse industry. One year certificate program is available to students who have completed a 4-year undergrad degree.

The Waikato Institute of Technology
Avalon Campus, Private Bag 3036,
Hamilton 2020,
New Zealand.
Tel: +64 (0)7 834 8806...Fax: +64 (0) 7 834 8805
Since 1989, leading provider of Equine Education in New Zealand offering diploma in Equine Management, Certificate in Equine Studies and Distance learning courses.

New Zealand Equine Academy Trust which can also be contacted via Dinah Booth, P O Box 53, Hautapu Post Centre, Hamilton 2050, telephone/fax (07) 823-7999


South African Jockeys' Academy

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