Irish authority rejects calls for longer break for jump jockeys
Horse Racing Ireland is unlikely to bow to the wishes of Dr Adrian McGoldrick, chief medical officer at the IHRB and leading rider Robbie Power, who have expressed concern over the lack of an end-of-season break for jump jockeys.
The majority of jockeys who were in action on the final day of the season at Punchestown last Saturday were back at work for the new campaign’s opening fixture at Kilbeggan less than 48 hours later on Monday, unlike their counterparts in Britain, who after the finale card at Sandown last Saturday had a six-day break.
Power said: “It’s a long season and I think it would be good for jockeys to wind down after Punchestown. The spring is especially busy, with all the big festivals – Cheltenham, Fairyhouse, Aintree and Punchestown – and it would be good, even if it was just for a week, to get a mental and physical rest when they’re over.
“When there’s racing on, you can’t take a break. You have to go to work when racing’s on as you’re expected to ride. It shouldn’t be down to us to take time off work.
“If you look at soccer and rugby players, even Flat jockeys, they all get a substantial break during their season. The National Hunt rider is on the go more or less all year round – mentally as well as physically, you need a break.”
HRI director of racing Jason Morris indicated such a change to the programme is unlikely due to the high demand for jumps racing in early summer/late spring.
He said: “There’s no realistic possibility of a break in early May as it’s a time of very high demand from the National Hunt horse population. We have developed two breaks for National Hunt riders throughout the year.
"Nine days in the middle of summer, from June 26 to July 4, and September 1 to September 8 – the first six days for all National Hunt riders and the the last two days comprising of races [at Kilbeggan, Down Royal and Wexford] restricted to opportunity riders and jockeys with less than ten winners the previous year.”
“When you look at the Flat jockeys, there is a lag from October to March, but the National Hunt rider is on the go all throughout the year.
“It seems only natural they should have a break off the back of a long winter and busy spring. I don’t think anybody would dispute that. I think an end-of-season break would do them all the world of good."
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