Dettori praised for using diet of 'fish and water' to make Enable weight
Frankie Dettori's effort to shed the pounds to ride King George winner Enable has been hailed as an example of how diet and exercise is key to sustaining a long and successful career in the saddle.
Dettori said he lost 7lb in six days in order to ride the filly at 8st 7lb, and did so by eating white fish and drinking water. His regime gained the ultimate reward when the dual Classic heroine captured Ascot's midsummer highlight by four and a half lengths.
Professional Jockeys Association executive director Dale Gibson said Dettori's commitment was similar to that followed by many other members of the weighing room, but still a notable achievement considering he has had limited rides since fracturing a shoulder in June.
"It might be getting down to 8st 7lb in a 0-60 handicap or riding the best filly in Europe, it's the same structure," said Gibson.
"It was a great physical effort particularly after he had been injured, and at the age of 46, when we are told metabolisms slow down as we get older," he said about Dettori, who rides Goodwood Cup favourite Big Orange on Tuesday.
"I was delighted for him, he still has so much talent and he is an example to everybody."
The lightest Dettori has ridden at in the last 12 months is 8st 6lb but he has done that on very few occasions. Most of his rides are at 8st 10lb and above but Gibson said there are still opportunities for lighter jockeys.
"The median weight carried in all Flat races is between 9st and 9st 2lb, which is quite pertinent," he said.
"The winner of the six-furlong handicap at Newmarket on Saturday carried 7st 11lb and the runner-up carried 8st. Five of the first six in the Sprint Trophy at York carried less than 8st 4lb so there are still people around.
"The likes of Adam Kirby are riding at 9st as a minimum and are averaging 1,000 rides a year. Danny Tudhope does 8st 12lb and is third in the championship, as he is riding lots of horses. Where we are at the moment is pretty fair."
The importance of nutrition for jockeys has been reinforced in research projects funded by the Racing Foundation, BHA and Oxford and Liverpool John Moores Universities which has led to the rolling out of clearer guidance on the benefits of nutrition and diet and harmful impact of more severe weight loss measures such as flipping.
Gibson said: "Help is available that wasn't there years ago through Liverpool John Moores University and nutritionists like Dan Martin.
"Not every diet suits everybody. Frankie has done it on white fish and water. Different people use different methods but using diet is the way forward rather than drastic measures. Diet and exercise are the key in order to keep riding into your forties."
Franny Norton, a natural lightweight, has been heavily involved with John Moores University.
He said: "John Moores University and the team have changed the lifestyle of a jockey. They have introduced a low-carb diet because we don't burn a lot of carbs. I am now watching people like Richard Kingscote and Daniel Muscutt who bring in their own food.
"A lot of jockeys are now changing. I only learned from John Moores."