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A jockey is a highly trained professional horse rider who is contracted by racehorse owners and trainers to ride their horses at public races. Jockeys will usually specialise in a particular type of racing, either Flat Racing without obstacles, such as Royal Ascot, or National Hunt races with fences and ditches, like the Grand National.
When a racehorse is being prepared for a race, the jockey will be brought in to work with the horse in order to get to know it and ultimately improve its performance in anticipation of the race. Jockeys will work closely with the racehorse trainer, planning a racing strategy and implementing an effective exercise routine for the horse.
Jockeys need to be physically fit and must not exceed the weight limit of 9 stone 7lbs as a national hunt jockey and 8 stone as a flat jockey. Typically, jockeys will have in-depth experience of horse riding, and are likely to have worked around horses for some time. They are experts in horseracing, with good technique and a strong record.
Jockeys and trainers will come up with a strategy and fitness schedule, and then the jockey will be expected to help implement the plan. This is likely to include:
Jockeys may only be required part of the year or for particular events, so it is important to build good connections, with the horse and the owner, so that they can secure further work. Whilst they usually specialise in one type of racing, some jockeys choose to do a bit of both.
With good results and a proven track record, jockeys can go on to find considerable fame and success with a particular horse, or even on their own merit. It is a very competitive field, so hard work and dedication is required at all stages of preparation.