How is the suspension of racing affecting jockeys?
Everyone connected with racing is hoping and praying that the current suspension till the end of April will not last any longer than that. We can just about bear it for that long if we get our heads down, but it’s the not knowing whether it will be extended that is really alarming.
What will jockeys do for work?
We’ve got twenty horses here and a farm to look after, so I’m lucky that there’s plenty to do here. Many of the other jockeys are not sure they can get work riding out now. Some of the less busy ones have sidelines, though they’re generally horse-related. They might have to look for another job to tide them over, which is easier said than done at the moment. During foot and mouth many businesses could carry on, but this epidemic affects everyone.
Jockeys have an insurance scheme which we all pay into, which makes weekly payments to tide us over when injured. However, there is nothing in place for this situation. At least we also have the Professional Jockeys Association and the Injured Jockeys Fund, and they will be doing their best to help those that are really struggling.
How will this affect horses and their training?
At the end of the jump season many horses are taken out of training, and some of them go back to stay with their owners for a summer’s rest. That’s going to happen a month or two earlier this year. Trainers getting horses ready for summer jumping or the flat are in a dilemma. Will their owners keep them going or take them out of training? For six weeks you’d hope most people would keep them going, but the shutdown goes on after that owners may decide to put them in livery, which is cheaper, or to sell. With less cash coming in from owners and prize money, trainers will find it hard to pay their staff, yet they’ll be desperate not to lose them.
We’re all watching the daily updates from the government and the bulletins from the BHA. The sheer uncertainty of it all, and the fact that this is out of our hands, is very worrying, but we have to try and stay positive. My broken arm has heeled very well and when racing resumes my main ambition will be to regain the title of champion jockey!