A study has been launched to assess the effect of rapid weight reduction through dehydration on jockeys’ hearts.
It is hoped the joint initiative by Liverpool John Moore’s University (LJMU) and the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will not only help to provide an understanding of whether the current population of jockey athletes face a risk of issues affecting the electrical and muscular aspects of their cardiac function through making weight by dehydration, but will also provide screening data on their cardiac health on non-racedays.
A number of UK sports , including football, already offer pre-participation cardiac screening to their athletes, in a bid to reduce the incidence of sudden cardiac death by detecting some inherited heart conditions. It is hoped that this study will help decide whether jockeys should undergo the same process.
The study will be based on data collected from any jockeys who volunteer to undergo screening at a selection of racing venues around the country including a session at the British Racing School in Newmarket. The first non raceday session for 30 jockeys is in Malton on May 8 with a post-race screen for 10 jockeys at York Racecourse on May 11.
The benefit to any jockey taking part in the study will be a free assessment of their cardiovascular health through tests including blood pressure, ECG and cardiac ultrasound. The tests will be undertaken by a registered clinical cardiac-physiologist with Specialist follow up provided if any issues are identified.
“My priority is that we as a sport – and the riders themselves – start to think of jockeys not just as horsemen but as athletes,”
said Dr Jerry Hill, the BHA’s chief medical adviser.
“The unique demands of being a jockey, including the strict weight-making requirements of the sport, present significant challenges to health and safety. It is my view that those challenges can be mitigated by a modern, scientific approach to wellbeing, nutrition, diet and exercise.
“Dehydrating has long been considered as an effective weight-making technique by jockeys. However, it may be having a significant detrimental impact not only on jockeys strength, performance, mood and decision making – which is supported by research – but also on cardiovascular function. That is what this new study is seeking to research.
“I would ask, and recommend, that jockeys take the time to get involved and come along for a free check-up. It will not only help important scientific research but might also unearth any existing, underlying conditions which our riders may not know they even had, allowing early intervention.”
Interested jockeys should contact Caroline Schneider on 07943929772 or C.Schneider@2015.ljmuac.uk