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The big races across the globe always attract the biggest jockeys. Huge names such as Frankie Dettori and William Buick have won major Group 1s around the world, and one of the best ways that they stay ahead of the others in the weighing room is their fitness routine.
Dettori is a special exception, as he is still competing with the very best around the world, despite being aged 51. So, how do jockeys stay at the peak of their powers before the big races throughout the calendar year? Can we credit the jockey’s fitness discipline for some of the victorious champions in the Kentucky Derby past winners list?
Many don’t consider the hard work that goes into becoming a jockey, as it takes hours of fitness throughout the day, even if they have no rides and are on their off-season. Many use HIIT training as a perfect routine to stay in shape. This type of training is high intensity, with jockeys specifically targeting four main areas.
Those main areas of importance are quads, cardio, balance and core. All of which are vital components when it comes to staying on top of a fast traveling horse and getting the very best out of it when competing in the biggest races on the calendar.
Example Of Exercise Plan
One of the examples found online is a 30-minute workout with top jockey Tom Marquand. In total, there are eight exercises part of this workout, with each focusing on a vital specific body part. The first two exercises focus on the quads, and include holding a squat for 40 seconds, and then a jump lunge for 40 seconds, with 20 seconds rest in between.
Then, the second leg of the circuit focuses on the cure. The first exercise is flutter kicks for 40 seconds before holding the prone Superman pose for 40 seconds. The penultimate leg of the circuit is focused purely on cardio, with 40 seconds of burpees followed by 40 seconds of bear crawls over ten meters. The final leg of the circuit is entirely focused on balance.
A one-legged balance hold for 40 seconds in the first exercise, before then single-leg deadlifts complete the workout for 40 seconds. These eight exercises should then be completed three times each.
Routine Before A Big Race
The routine before a big race will likely differ depending on the jockey, as some will have some unique pre-race rituals that will bring good luck. However, for the majority, they will turn up to the racetrack where the meeting is taking place early in the morning to give adequate time to set up before their rides in the afternoon.
Many jockeys opt to have a job around the track to familiarise themselves with the course, as well as test the ground to see whether they will be able to find a tactic for the race that they are running in. Many jockeys won’t work out too much before their big race, which is especially important when it comes to races in the United Kingdom, due to the weight allowances.
This also has a direct impact on the diet before the race, with Patrick Mullins revealing that at times, he has only had half a cup of tea to maintain the weight. The routine of the jockeys is completely different from that of the horses.
The equine stars will turn up and have an early morning gallop to get their muscles warm. Ten minutes before the saddles go on for the race, the horses will then have a walk around the paddock, before then entering the parade ring where they will meet up with owners and the jockey that will be riding it.