BHA to launch poster campaign

Jockeys approach a fence during the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival

Changing the perception of jockeys from horsemen to elite athletes has been identified as a top priority for the British Horseracing Authority and the wider racing industry following two major research projects.

The two separate studies, conducted by Oxford University and Liverpool John Moores University, examined the body composition of male jockeys and nutrition, weight and well-being respectively.

The first phase of the Oxford study found that male riders are 12 times more likely to have reduced bone density than the general population, while John Moores investigation revealed widespread awareness of archaic weight-making practices and a lack of nutrition education may inhibit the development of a jockey as a professional athlete.

A hard-hitting poster campaign on the importance of nutrition and diet is now due to be rolled out in weighing rooms in the near future, while the #JockeyAthleteDiet social media thread will also be launched in response to the studies.

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Dr Jerry Hill, chief medical advisor for the BHA, said: "The results of Julia Newton and her Oxford teams' initial research are significant but come as no surprise.

"When athletes compete in a weight-making sport but their schedules make it difficult to access and follow the correct guidance on how to remain fit and healthy then the demands are going to take their toll on the body.

"This research confirms our suspicions and provides us with scientific data to help guide future developments on tackling the issues raised, and gives us extra impetus to continue to work with other industry bodies to support the physical and psychological wellbeing of riders, helping them to have longer, healthier careers and less time off injured.

"The research carried out by Dan Martin and Liverpool John Moores confirms many people's belief that as an industry we need to better support jockeys, trainers and racecourses in providing information about the vital importance of good diet and nutrition to improve wellbeing, reduce injury and improve performance.

"The #JockeyAthleteDiet campaign is one of the first visible outcomes of our nutrition research, which we hope will have a positive impact.

"It is intentionally hard-hitting and focuses on emotive subjects such as so-called 'flipping' and dehydration. Our objective is to show our jockeys that "there is a better way", which will be the campaign's strapline".

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