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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Flat racing: The jockeys
Frankie Dettori
Jockeys can be dwarved by trainers and owners

Flat jockeys have an easier ride of it than their jump colleagues but it is still a demanding lifestyle.

The weather is better, the falls fewer and their careers tend to last longer but there is still the battle with the scales.

Flat jockeys are usually of a smaller build than jump riders.

Excluding allowances, a Flat rider's minimum weight is 7st 12lb compared to the 10st lowest weight of a jump jockey.

But hours are still spent in saunas and hot baths in an effort to shed crucial pounds, while eating a square meal is a rare luxury - Lester Piggott was said to live off coffee, cigars and dry toast.

There is also the travel factor - driving hundreds of miles each week to courses from Ayr to Yarmouth.

Because of the shared physical demands and risks, there is a strong camaraderie between jockeys.

Many drive to courses together, socialise together and go on holiday together - although on the racecourse, competition takes over.

The top jockeys earn a good living, but for most it is not a lucrative profession.


They are paid a fixed rate of 75.60 for each ride (a jump jockey earns about 25 more because the races are longer and more dangerous).

In addition, they earn a percentage of any prize money won.

While this sounds like good money, many riders often only get a handful of rides a week, and often these are not on the best, prize money-winning horses.

Many jockeys have 'retainers' with a trainer, or sometimes with an owner.

This means they are paid a separate fee by that trainer/owner, who then has first call on their services.

There are fewer amateur Flat riders than there are in the jumping code.

Any amateur can be recognised on a racecard because he is always referred to as "Mr J Smith", whereas Kieren Fallon's name would appear "K Fallon".

To help young jockeys get a foothold in the sport, those under 26 can claim a weight allowance in certain races (they are known as apprentice jockeys).

They can claim 7lb until they have ridden 20 winners, then 5lb until they have won 50 races and 3lb until they have won 95 races.

There are female Flat riders but few have enjoyed success at the highest level.

Alex Greaves, who rides for husband David Nicholls' stable, is the only woman jockey to have won a Group One race.

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