Bloodstock, sweat and tears… new normal for jockeys
Horseracing will return eventually, but in a form that will make life a little more uncomfortable for riders
If racing resumes in SA and England on June 1 — and that remains a big if — it is likely jockeys will be carrying not only a saddle but also an antiperspirant can.
Paul Struthers, CEO of the Professional Jockeys Association in the UK, has stated that “jockeys can expect things to look very different when racing resumes”.
“For a start, saunas and showers will be banned. They can produce aerosols which can infect others in proximity,” said Struthers.
While he acknowledged this will cause unpleasantness, he added that “even a cold shower can create an aerosol”. He stressed that social distancing remained hugely important.
“Going racing will be safer than going to the supermarket due to the screening, testing and on the measures in place on the racecourse,” added Struthers.
If one googles “worst smells in the world” three of the most horrendous are French cheese Vieux Boulogne, rotten eggs and the Thai fruit, Durian. No-one is suggesting jockeys will smell badly because of the measures, but cartoonists might have a field day.
Whether such steps banning saunas and showers will be introduced in SA remains to be seen — for many jockeys a visit to the sauna is a necessity to reduce weight.
If the British Horseracing Authority was hoping for the green light for racing in Boris Johnson’s address to the nation last Sunday, they were in for a disappointment. The prime minister confirmed that professional sport will not be staged in England before June 1 at the earliest.
Ireland — with its many large stud farms — finds itself in a worse position. The forecast restart date there is June 29. It is believed many sponsors will not be in a position to support the industry in the short term.
What, understandably, gets the ire of British and Irish racing officials is that racing has restarted in France and Germany — albeit behind closed doors — without any hiccups. The French Football Association tried to put the boot in (literally) with a last-minute protest questioning why racing should be allowed when football wasn’t, but this was overruled by the government.
Then at Wednesday’s meeting at Happy Valley racecourse in Hong Kong, the Jockey Club acted by relaxing some restrictions and letting more people attend.
This was the result of the Hong Kong government announcing an easing of social-distancing measures. A decrease in coronavirus cases was reported in the former British colony.
Previously, only jockeys, trainers and club officials could be present, but after signing a health declaration form, undergoing temperature screening and wearing a surgical mask, horse owners as well as voting members and racing club members were allowed access.
The public remain barred from the city’s two racetracks.