Mackay: I'm glad I got out of jockey ranks when I did
Jamie Mackay, who called it a day as a jockey in 2014, responds to the BHA initiative to control the number of riders in Britain
When I first started riding in 1999 I could do 8st and I was in big demand – as lightweights were then. I was with Michael Bell as an apprentice and rode many winners early doors and could have four or five rides a day.
With my weight, I was always in demand for races like the Chester Cup, Northumberland Plate, Cambridgeshire and the Cesarewitch and rode in such races most years, which was handy for the bank balance.
What was less handy was that I rode out my claim at 18 and then the BHA decided to put the minimum weight up which didn't help my flow of winners and I went down to picking up one or two rides a day if I was lucky.
I was freelance by that time and it was a struggle as I didn't have a big yard behind me and even then there were too many jockeys chasing too few rides. I went on to be second jockey to Sir Mark Prescott for a few years but I was kidding myself I could make a go of it.
I decided to call it quits in 2014 when I realised I had hardly made a living for the previous seven years. The situation appears even worse now and I can see why they are trying to cut the numbers. I'm glad I got out when I did.
I'm 34 now and work for Godolphin, where I'm a work-rider for Charlie Appleby. If this job had been available previously, I would have got out seven or eight years ago as it's the best move I ever made.
If these new measures had been around in my time I might have had more opportunities to stay as a jockey for longer but I've no regrets.