How do I become a jockey?

How do I become a jockey?  Of course, there are two types of jockey: professional jockeys, who ride for a living, and amateur jockeys, who ride for nothing more than fun. Becoming an amateur jockey may sound like the easier option, and it is, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a cakewalk.

Before any application for a Category A Amateur Riders Permit – which allows an individual to ride against other amateurs, but not professionals – can even be considered, applicants must attend a two-day training and assessment course at the British Racing School in Newmarket or the National Horseracing College in Doncaster. Applicants are assessed for fitness, strength and technique, including the principles of good race riding and/or schooling and jumping, depending on the type of permit for which they have applied.

Several highly successful professional jockeys – Ruby Walsh, Richard Johnson and Bryony Frost, to name but three – began their careers as amateurs. However, the good news is that no formal qualifications are required to become a professional jockey and anyone aged 16 or over, who works at least 16 hours a week in a licensed racing stable can apply to do so. The first step is typically a residential foundation course at one of the aforementioned institutions followed, at a later date, subject to competency, by a jockey licence course.

It probably goes without saying that to become a successful professional jockey you need to be young, lightweight, fit and healthy. Of course there are exceptions, but most professional jockeys begin their careers no later than their earlier twenties and weigh between eight and ten stone, depending on whether they ride on the Flat or over Jumps. Controlling a half-tonne racehorse, at speed, requires no little strength and athleticism, so seven stome weaklings need not apply. Excellent horsemanship skills are obviously a pre-requisite, but other desirable characteristics include dedication, self-discipline and a will to win, although not necessarily at all costs.

Which jockey rode Black Caviar at Royal Ascot?

Which jockey rode Black Caviar at Royal Ascot?  For the uninitiated, Black Caviar was an undefeated racehorse trained by Peter Moody in Melbourne, Australia. The daughter of champion Australian sire Bel Esprit was retired, as a six-year-old, on April 17, 2013, immediately after winning the fifteenth Group 1 race of her career, the TJ Smith Stakes at Royal Randwick Racecourse, Sydney. In so doing, she set a new Australian record for Group 1 wins and brought to a close a perfect 25-25 career, stretching back four years to April 18, 2009 at Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne.

In June, 2012, raced for the one and only time outside Australia, in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot. Defending a 21-21 record, she faced 13 rivals in the 6-furlong contest, but was nonetheless sent off at prohibitive odds of 1/6 to maintain her 100% record. She was ridden, as she had been for all but three of her previous starts, by experienced Australian jockey Luke Nolen.

Having taken the lead inside the final quarter of a mile, Black Caviar only had to be pushed along with hands and heels to take command inside the final furlong but, inexplicably, in the shadow of the winning post, Nolen stopped riding altogether. His over-confidence allowed the hard-driven Moonlight Cloud, ridden by Thierry Jarnet, to press Black Caviar, before he realised his error and started pushing along again close home.

Thankfully, for Nolen and anyone who laid the odds, Black Caviar just held on to beat Moonlight Cloud by a head with another French-trained runner, Restiadargent, just a neck further back in third place. Nolen accepted the blame for his narrow escape, saying, ‘I probably just underestimated the testing track at Ascot’, but adding that he had ‘got away it’. Moody echoed the latter sentiment, but defended Black Caviar, saying, ‘You only have to win by a quarter of an inch. She got the job done.’

Which were John Francome’s first and last winners?

Which were John Francome's first and last winners?  The late Michael Seely, Chief Racing Correspondent at ‘The Times’, once wrote,

‘Watching John Francome in action is the most aesthetically pleasing sight in steeplechasing.’ Unfortunately, Francome was also dubbed ‘the best jockey in history never to have won the Grand National’; he famously turned down the ride on the 1976 winner, Rag Trade, having ridden the same horse into tenth, and last, place behind L’Escargot the previous year.

Nevertheless, at the time of his retirement, on April 9, 1985, Francome had ridden 1,138 winners, beating the previous record for the number of career wins by a National Hunt jockey, 1,035, set by the late Stan Mellor in 1972. He won the Jump Jockeys’ Championship seven times between 1976 and 1985, including the title he shared, magnanimously, with Peter Scudamore in 1981/82.

Francome became conditional jockey to Fred Winter at Uplands in Lambourn, Berkshire straight from school and rode his first winner, Multigrey, at Worcester on December 2, 1970. He rode his last winner, Gambler’s Cup, at Huntingdon on April 8, 1985, but in between times, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, on Midnight Court in 1978, the King George VI Chase, on Wayward Lad in 1982 and Burrough Hill Lad in 1984, and the Hennessy Gold Cup – now the Ladbrokes Trophy – twice, on Brown Chamberlin in 1983 and Burrough Hill Lad in 1984.

For how long was Oisin Murphy banned?

For how long was Oisin Murphy banned?  Champion jockey in 2019, 2020 and 2021, Oisin Murphy has nonetheless fallen foul of racing authorities, at home and abroad, on several occasions throughout his career. In June, 2019, Murphy was stood down for the day after providing a breath sample containing alcohol above the threshold level for race riding at Salisbury. In November, 2020, he was banned for three months by the French racing authority, French Galop, after providing a urine sample that tested positive for metabolites of cocaine at Chantilly in July that year. While for some of us being hedonistic involves something like playing the online blackjack in the hope of a winning streak, Oisin was clearly keen on a bit more action!

In December, 2021, Murphy handed in his jockey’s licence, pending disciplinary action for breaching Covid-19 protocols in 2020 and two more failed tests for alcohol, one at Chester in May, 2021 and the other at Newmarket in October, 2021. Appearing before the independent disciplinary panel of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) in February, 2022, Murphy admitted all five charges against him, including ‘acting in a manner which is prejudicial to the proper integrity, conduct or good reputation of the sport’. He received three 11-month suspensions, albeit to run concurrently, plus an additional 100 days for alcohol breaches, backdated to the day on which he relinquished his licence. Thus, Murphy, 26, effectively received a 14-month ban and is ineligible to reapply for his jockey’s licence until mid-February, 2023. He was also fined just over £31,000. A hefty sum for most, for instance as a win on online casino sites. Playing those would’ve been a wiser decision in terms of getting a thrill (and hopefully a win!) fthan the paths he chose.


Reflecting on his behaviour, Murphy said, ‘I couldn’t undo the lies and deceit. Now that I’m sober I’m a different person and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have made those errors sober, but I can’t go back in time and I’m afraid they were grave issues.’


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