On the surface, thoroughbred jockeys rely heavily on real live horsepower to take them to the finish line. However, like any other athlete from any other sport, these riders also train extensively, as galloping with a half ton physical specimen for 40 miles per hour requires more than just a strong grip.
Along with their horses, jockeys follow a strict and precise training regimen focused on strength, stability, and, of course, endurance. Ray Paulick points out how riders’ fitness has changed over the years. The days of unfit jockeys who hop on their thoroughbreds for a major race following a long night out of heavy partying are gone.
We, as a collective group of fitness enthusiasts, are at the peak of scientific conditioning. This involves also cross training in other activities and sports. Whether we’re avid runners or competitive jockeys, fitness will always be key, which is why putting in the road-work does wonders to the career of a jockey.
In the United Kingdom, for instance, there’s the British Racing School, which is a popular specialized boot camp for budding and novice jockeys. It’s a hit amongst aspiring riders, Betfair, a website that also covers major events such as the Cheltenham Festival, granted scholarships during last year’s Stable Staff Week.
For their part, the British Racing School is known for its scientific yet simple fitness programs specifically catered for jockeys. By basing it on the actual training methods of the institution, getting race fit involves building key muscle groups to guide horses in the quickest, most powerful way possible.
Though they don’t look like the part, underneath these riders are lean and ripped. While upper body strength remains vital in terms of controlling the horse, the core and legs are still the most used parts of a jockey’s body, which is why these are the primary focus of their fitness training.
Aside from riding on the track and lifting weights in the gym, horse racers spend five to six mornings a week doing aerobic exercises. This includes cycling and running. ESPY nominated jockey, Alex Solis, considers himself a runner at heart.
Back in the day, Solis ran between two to four miles around the track to maintain his ideal body weight of 112 pounds. Since he currently lives in California, he does a lot of running by the beach, or anywhere outdoors like up the San Gabriel Mountains and the Mount Wilson Trail.
For Alex Solis, running is the best method to lose weight and stay fit. It also used to allow him to mentally prepare for an upcoming race. Today, at 52 years of age, he still is in prime condition, and can still keep pace with some jockeys two to three decades his junior, thanks to a dedicated training regimen based on cardio.
Alex Solis’ name will always be up there in terms of the greatest examples of a fit jockey. In essence, he’s the embodiment of what running does to an athlete’s overall fitness.
Thanks a lot!