Anorak News | The Hidden Dangers of Cheltenham; It isn’t Just the Horses Who Should Be Careful.

The Hidden Dangers of Cheltenham; It isn’t Just the Horses Who Should Be Careful.

by | 15th, March 2019

This year’s Cheltenham festival is already underway, with scores of racing fans flocking to the four-day event in Gloucestershire. They may come for the horses, but many stay for the food, the entertainment, and of course, the booze! While flat events like Epsom and the Grand National can often be seen as snobby and elitist, Cheltenham, with its thrilling jumps and hurdles, has something for everybody. The passion of the jockeys bubbles over into the crowd, whipping up ardent fans and newcomers alike. For those on both sides of the paddock, Cheltenham is often viewed as the jewel in the jump racing crown, the highlight of the year for everyone involved.

For the jockeys, Cheltenham is the one date in their calendar that they do not want to miss. It is the competition that everyone is training for, and everyone wants to win. Think of it like being asked to play the main stage at Glastonbury, or walking out onto the pitch for the FA Cup final. Except they’re being paid far less than the rock stars and the footballers, and are far more likely to wind up with a broken bone.

When a serious fall happens, it isn’t just the horse who could wind up with a serious injury. Jockeys have been trampled, crushed and dragged along, all by the partner they’ve trained with day-in, day-out, often for years. Ruby Walsh, one of the greatest modern jockeys, often dubbed the King of Cheltenham, has had his fair share of injuries in his 20 year career. His philosophy is ‘move on. Fix it. Let’s go. So you know why it happened and then you do the rehab and get back.’ He’s broken his fair share of bones over the years, so has a pretty good idea of the recovery process. But many others find it harder to bounce back. Which is why there is a specific charity with its own rehabilitation centres to help them recover from the traumas, both mental and physical.

But why do the jockeys need a charity? There isn’t one for footballers, rugby players or even formula one drivers, surely they get injured just as often? Well, over jumps, jockey’s average a fall every 16 rides, 18% of these result in injury, meaning there is one injury every 83 rides. With the average jump jockey taking 215 rides per-year, the charity is certainly warranted.  

To add insult to injury, it might surprise you to find out that some of these jockeys probably get paid less than you do. The average salary for a jockey equates to around £26,000, compared to a staggering £2.6 million for a Premier League footballer. Is the risk of being a jockey really worth it without the paycheck to back it up? have created a tool which compares various sports from a risk vs reward point of view, the results suggest they have due cause to be feeling a little Jocked Off.

Of course one thing you can’t measure is the passion these jockeys feel for their horses and the thrill of the competition. And Cheltenham Festival brings them from all over the country for the biggest event of the horse jumping calendar. It’s their chance to show off and compete amongst the best of the best, the time when they might finally be able to answers, once and for all, who is top dog…or umm, top horse!

Posted: 15th, March 2019 | In: Sports Comment | TrackBack | Permalink