English version of the EJAJC's Weight Scale Project 2011

Medical literature and journals research: Miguel Almanza 

Buenos Aires, 21 of february of 2011 

The purpose of the present project is to adjust the current weight scale into the light of current medical knownledge. New researchs in medicine, a dramatic increase of the population's size, and the hard physical demand of today's racing in jockeys, sooner or later will involved a raise in the weight scale.

This change will benefit jockey's health, and hopefully, also institutions that are involved.

In perspective of the vast cientific information collected by renowed universities and research teams around the world about the severe health problems that produce the current weight restrictions, we proposed:

1) Increase in 2 (two) kilograms (4,4 lbs) the weight scale for the differents categories, EXCLUDING STAKES RACES, witch will respect the current weight scale. The wright below it's an example:
*2-YO Non Winners, Mares: Raise from 55 kg (122 lbs) to 57 kg (125,6 lbs).
*3-YO Non Winners, Mares: Raise from 56 kg (123,45 lbs) to 58 kg (128 lbs).
*4-YO and up, winners and non winners, males: Raise from 57 kg (125,6 lbs) to 59 kg (130 lbs).
*Handicaps: At organizer's discretion.

2) Raise the minimun weight from 48 kg (106 lbs) to 50 kg (110 lbs).

3) Perform a regular nutritional monitoring of jockeys, including degree of deshydration.


1) The current conditions of admission must be respected. The goal of this project is not to encourage taller raiders, the goal is to adjust the weight scale according to the modern medical concerns.

2) The new weight scale will not allow to overcharge 2 kg (4,4 lbs) that the current rules allow.

3) The way of application as well the rules of this project, stay at the sole consideration of the racing authorities.


1) Improve the jockey's health both in short and long term, reducing or even prevent them to use the typical habits to reduce weight in jockeys, as induced deshydration by sweating in turkish baths, excersice with excessive shelter, use of diuretics, laxatives, flipping (vomit self-induced), water intake restriction, all common practices that are absolutely contraindicated by physicians today.

2) Reduce or avoid the use of diuretics to "make weight". The diuretics only are prescribed in special medical situations, but are clearly contraindicated in deshydration, with many potencial problems in kidneys, In England, for example, the use of diuretics by jockeys was forbbiden some years ago, and it's controlled by antidoping.

3) Reduce or avoid the use of anphetamines or other drugs, seeking to offset the starvation effects, and also as a pharmacological method to reduce weight.

4) Avoid unnecesary risks of cardiac arrest due excessive electhrolytes lost by urine, excesive swetting, flipping practices, and laxatives consumption.

5) Improve the responsiveness of the jockeys in racing. Reflexes and mental work decreased with starvation. To normalize it, is mandatory a proper nutrition and hydration. Jockeys need to make decisions in miliseconds during racing, also to avoid potential accidents.

6) Reduce the risk of brain injury against head trauma. The deshydration produce hypovolemia (reduction of blood volume in the vascular system). In a brain injury, the compromise of the vascular system can be an important factor to makes it more severe.

7) Improve the life quality for jockeys, work environment, and family relations. All the classical medical literature, and the medical reseach specifically made to jockeys. argue that starvation increased the agressiveness of the individual. This affect not only decisions during racing, also interpersonal relationships in work and the most appreciated support, the family.

8) We joint with this project many medical and psycological researchs around the world, of the most respected scientist and universities teams, made specifically to jockeys, in the last 15 years.

-"La influencia ambiental en el Crecimiento Humano" ("The environmental influences in human growth") L.M.Guimarey, F.R.Carnese, M.Pucciarelli. "Ciencia Hoy" (Vol. 5, Nro. 30)
-"Psychological effects of rapid weight loss and attitudes towards eating among professional jockeys" Michael J. Caulfield; Costas I. Karageorghis, School of Sport and Education, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK, 2008.
-"New Zealand jockeys' dietary habits and their potential impact on health". Leydon MA, Wall C. Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Waikato Polytechnic, Private Bag 3036, Hamilton, New Zealand, june of 2002.
-"An Analysis of Bone Density and Body Composition Characteristics of Irish Jockeys" [abstract] M.Griffin, A .McGoldrick, D.Lyons, G.D.Warrington (search page 11).
-Irish Turf Club Safety Review Group: Report and Recommendations (May, 2004).
-Horse Racing Ireland Directives Book (2011).
- "Survey shows jockeys face health issues" D.McErloy, Diario The Independent (Irlanda), 30 de junio de 2005.
-"Turf Club approves 4 lb rise in Minimum Flat Racing Weight", Irish Turf Club, Ireland, 2006.
-"Weighty problem for BHB to address" M.Armytage, The Telegraph, 2006.
-"Abuse of Diuretics by Jockeys" British Medical Journal, 31 of march,1973.
-"Diuretic Abuse and Eating Disorders" Rader Programs.
-"Jockey Eating Disorders: Body, Eat Thyself" Michael Ransom, Freedom's Rein.
-"Jockey's tragic death shows that weights must change" Bill Finley, ESPN.com, 2005.
-"Jockeys 'run risk of eating disorders' in bid to stay slim", Mark Hughes, The Independent, 2008.
-"Aprendices: Porque se les pide un determinado peso y altura" Miguel Almanza, 2008.
-"Problemas de Salud asociados a los problemas de peso en Jockeys Profesionales" Miguel Almanza, 2010, rev. 2011.
-"The going gets too heavy for jockeys", J.Burns, L.Kelleher; The Times, 2008.
-"Racing: Weight rules are ruining jockeys' health, says Dettori" Chris McGrath, Racing Correspondent, 2006
-"Jockey Chris McKenzie died doing his job, starving himself in an effort to make weight" Bill Finley, Daily News, 10 september, 2000.

Articles and research's abstracts translated from english to spanish: You can find on escueladejockeys.blogspot.com.


Centre of Sport and Excercise Science, Waikato Polytechnic (New Zealand, 2002)

"New Zealand jockeys' dietary habits and their potential impact on health".
Leydon MA, Wall C.
Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Waikato Polytechnic, Private Bag 3036, Hamilton, New Zealand.

The purpose of this study was to determine the nutritional status, eating behaviors, and body composition of 20 jockeys working in the New Zealand Racing Industry. Seven-day weighed food records showed the mean daily energy intake for male and female jockeys was 6769 +/- 1339 kJ and 6213 +/- 1797 kJ, respectively.

Energy and carbohydrate intakes were below the recommendations for athletes, and the jockeys did not meet the RDI for a number of micronutrients. Of the jockeys, 67% used a variety of methods to "make weight", including: diuretics, saunas, hot baths, exercise, and the restriction of food and fluids.

A number of jockeys (20%) showed signs of disordered eating. Forty-four percent of jockeys were classified as osteopenic, and a number of factors may have contributed to this outcome, namely: reduced calcium intake, delayed menarche (14.5 years) in female jockeys, alcohol intake, and smoking. Percent body fat of male and female jockeys was 11.7 +/- 2.9 and 23.6 +/- 3.8, respectively.

Current weight restrictions imposed on jockeys by the horseracing industry impacts on their nutritional status, which may compromise their sporting performance and both their short- and long-term health.

PMID: 12187620 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/


Limerick University (Ireland, 2005)

"An Analysis of Bone Density and Body Composition Characteristics of Irish Jockey"
M.Griffin (1) A .McGoldrick (2) D.Lyons (3) and G.D.Warrington (1)
(1)National Coaching and Training Centre, (2) Turf Club, (3) Limerick Regional Hospital

The purpose of this study was to examine the patterns in bone mineral density (BMD), body mass index (BMI) and body composition in elite Irish jockeys. The subjects consisted of 17 Flat (F) (Age, 27 +- 8 yrs; Height 1.60 +- 0.1m; Mass 53.1 +- 4.1kg) and 10 National Hunt (NH) jockeys (Age, 28 +- 5yrs; Height 1.73 +- 0.1m; Mass 66.2 +- kg). 

DEXA (GE Lunar Prodigy 2) was used to measure BMD at the lumbar spine and proximal femur. Body composition was determined from the total body DEXA scan. The mean BMI was significantly lower in group F in the group NH (19.88 + - 1.26 v 22.06 + - 0.81, p <0 .01=""> Group F and 10.4 + - 4.0% for NH group respectively, being body fat levels of 6% or less in 24% of subjects F and 40% of subjects studied NH.

The resulting BMD revealed that 54% of subjects in Group F and 40% of the NH group had osteopenia *** in the spine. The total percentage of subjects who had hip osteopenia was 54% in group F and 20% in the NH group. In total, 69% of group F and 40% of the NH group had osteopenia in the hip, spine or both. The incidence of osteopenia observed in this study is significantly higher than previously conducted research in subjects of the same age.

Given the very low percentage BMI and% of body fat levels observed, coupled with the high incidence of osteopenia, the current standard minimum weight for both F and NH, should be reviewed as a matter of priority in view of taking them to more appropriate levels.


Dublin City University (Ireland, 2009)

"Chronic weight control impacts on physiological function and bone health in elite jockeys"
Warrington G (1) Dolan E, McGoldrick A, McEvoy J, Macmanus C, Griffin M, Lyons D.
(1) School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland. giles.warrington@dcu.ie

The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of weight restrictions on physiological function and bone health in a group of horse racing jockeys. Twenty-seven elite male jockeys participated in this study (17 flat jockeys; 10 national hunt jockeys). Participants completed a range of measurements including anthropometry, hydration analysis, bone mineral density assessment, and musculoskeletal screening.

Fifty-nine percent of flat and 40% of national hunt jockeys showed osteopenia in one or more of the total body, hip or spine scans. Mean urine-specific gravity (Usg) values revealed moderate dehydration on a non-race day (Usg = 1.022 +/- 0.005 and 1.021 +/- 0.007 for flat and national hunt jockeys respectively).

Analysis of a number of flat jockeys (n = 11) revealed marked dehydration on an official race day (Usg = 1.028 +/- 0.005). Sixty-four percent of participants reported a current injury at the time of assessment. Our results reveal some worrying trends within this population. Further research is required to examine the effects of current weight control practices typically used by jockeys on both physiological and cognitive function as well as health and performance.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19337879
J Sports Sci. 2009 April 27.


Adelaide and Meath Hospital (Ireland, 2009)

High bone turnover in Irish professional jockeys.
Waldron-Lynch F (1), Murray BF, Brady JJ, McKenna MJ, McGoldrick A, Warrington G, O'Loughlin G, Barragry JM.
Author information: Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin, Ireland. frank.waldron-lynch@yale.edu

Professional jockeys are routinely exposed to high impact trauma and sustain fractures frequently. We found that jockeys restrict their caloric intake in order to maintain regulation weights, and that bone turnover is high. There are significant health and safety implications for the racing industry.
Professional jockeys routinely sustain fractures from high impact falls. Jockeys maintain a low percentage body fat and a low body mass index (BMI) to achieve low weight targets in order to race. We evaluated dietary habits and bone metabolism in jockeys.
Bone mineral density (BMD) was measured in 27 male jockeys of the 144 jockeys licensed in Ireland. Fourteen (52%) had BMD T score below -1.0, of whom 12 consented to clinical review, nutritional survey, endocrine studies, and bone turnover markers (BTM). BTM were compared to age- and sex-matched controls (n = 16).
BMI was 20.6 +/- 1.7 kg/m(2); previous fracture frequency was 3.2 +/- 2.0 per rider. All had normal endocrine axes. The jockeys' diet as determined by a 7-day dietary recall was deficient in energy, calcium, and vitamin D intake. Compared with the control group, the jockey group had evidence of increased bone turnover.
A substantial proportion of the professional jockeys in Ireland have low-normal BMD, low BMI, and high bone turnover that may result from weight and dietary restrictions. These factors seem to have a deleterious effect on their bone health and predispose the jockeys to a high fracture risk that should be remediated.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19271097


Robert Gordon University (England, 2012)

"An altered hormonal profile and elevated rate of bone loss are associated with low bone mass in professional horse-racing jockeys"

Dolan E (1) , McGoldrick A, Davenport C, Kelleher G, Byrne B, Tormey W, Smith D, Warrington GD.
(1) School of Health Sciences, Robert Gordon University, Garthdee Road, Aberdeen, AB10 7QG, Scotland, UK. e.dolan@rgu.ac.uk

Horse-racing jockeys are a group of weight-restricted athletes, who have been suggested as undertaking rapid and extreme weight cycling practices in order to comply with stipulated body-mass standards. The aim of this study was to examine bone mass, turnover and endocrine function in jockeys and to compare this group with age, gender and body mass index matched controls.

Twenty male professional jockeys and 20 healthy male controls participated. Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scans and early morning fasting blood and urine samples were used to measure bone mass, turnover and a hormonal profile. Total body bone mineral density (BMD) was significantly lower in jockeys (1.143 ± 0.05 vs. 1.27 ± 0.06 g cm(-3), p < 0.01).

Bone resorptive activity was elevated in the jockey group as indicated by significantly higher urinary NTx/creatinine (76.94 ± 29.52 vs. 55.9 ± 13.9 nmol mmol(-1), p < 0.01), resulting in a significantly negative uncoupling index between bone resorption and formation. Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) levels were significantly higher in jockeys (41.21 ± 9.77 vs. 28.24 ± 9.98 nmol L(-1), p < 0.01) with a lower percentage of bioavailable testosterone (48.89 ± 7.38 vs. 59.18 ± 6.74 %, p < 0.01). SHBG and insulin-like growth factor-1 were independent predictors of total body and femoral neck BMD, respectively (p < 0.05).

In conclusion, it appears that professional jockeys have an elevated rate of bone loss and reduced bone mass that appears to be associated with disrupted hormonal activity. It is likely that this may have occurred in response to the chronic weight cycling habitually experienced by this group.


Liverpool John Moores University (England 2013)
J Sports Sci. 2014;32(4):383-91. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2013.825732. Epub 2013 Sep 9.

Rapid weight-loss impairs simulated riding performance and strength in jockeys: implications for making-weight.
Wilson G (1), Hawken MB, Poole I, Sparks A, Bennett S, Drust B, Morton J, Close GL.
Author information:  (1) Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences , Liverpool John Moores University , Liverpool , UK.

Despite the performance concerns of dehydration in other sports, there are currently no data on the effects of rapid weight-loss on the physical and cognitive performance of jockeys in a sport-specific context. 

In a randomised crossover design, eight Great Britain (GB) male licensed jockeys were assessed for chest strength, leg strength, simulated riding performance (assessed by maximum pushing frequency on a mechanical riding simulator during the final two furlongs of a simulated 2 mile race) and simple reaction time after performing 45 min of exercise, during which euhydration was maintained (Control trial) or induced 2% dehydration (Rapid Weight-Loss trial). Reductions in both chest (-13.8 ± 3.03% vs. 0.62 ± 1.04%) and leg strength (-4.8 ± 4.8% vs. -0.56 ± 2.5%) were greater in Rapid Weight-Loss compared with Control (P < 0.01 and P = 0.04, respectively). 

Similarly, reductions in simulated riding performance were also greater (P = 0.05) in Rapid Weight-Loss (-2.8 ± 4.0%) compared with Control (-0.07 ± 1.5%), whereas there were no significant changes (P = 0.14) in simple reaction time. We conclude that a 2% reduction in body mass, as achieved by 45 min of moderate-intensity exercise undertaken in a sweatsuit (a common method of inducing acute dehydration by jockeys), significantly impairs maximum pushing frequency during a simulated race. In addition, the observed reductions in strength may also increase the occupational hazards associated with race riding.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24015787


Liverpool John Moores University (England 2014)

Weight-making strategies in professional jockeys: implications for physical and mental health and well-being.

Wilson G1, Drust B, Morton JP, Close GL.
Author information
(1) Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Tom Reilly Building, Byrom Street, Liverpool, L3 3AF, UK.

Professional jockeys are unique amongst weight-making athletes given that they face the requirement to make weight daily. Furthermore, unlike other weight-limited sports, jockeys who have engaged in rapid weight loss cannot fully rehydrate prior to competition because post-race weight must not be more than 1 kg different to their pre-race weight.

As such, jockeys have reported a variety of acute and chronic methods to make weight that include sporadic eating, caloric restriction, diuretics, laxatives, vomiting and fluid restriction as well as regular use of sweat suits and saunas. Typical daily energy intake is reported to be 6.5-8.0 MJ (carbohydrate 3 g kg(-1) body weight, fat 1 g kg(-1) body weight, protein 1 g kg(-1) body weight) and jockeys also exhibit micronutrient deficiencies that include vitamin D and calcium. Accordingly, the combination of low macronutrient, micronutrient and fluid intake results in poor bone health and abnormal mood profiles and can also impair simulated riding performance.

Although the energy cost of real-world training and racing is unknown, energy expenditure during simulated race riding and total daily energy expenditure was 0.20 and 11.0 MJ, respectively. Such estimates of energy expenditure are considerably lower than that of other sports and suggest that conventional sports nutrition guidelines may not be applicable to the elite jockey. Furthermore, the use of daily diets that emphasise a high-protein and reduced carbohydrate intake (in the form of six small daily meals) in combination with structured exercise has also proven effective in reducing body mass and maintaining target racing weight.

In this regard, available data suggest the need for those organisations responsible for jockey welfare to implement widespread educational programmes to assist in improving both the physical and mental well-being of professional jockeys. Given the high occupational risks associated with race riding (e.g. falls and bone fractures), future research should specifically target strategies to improve bone health through the use of structured weight-bearing exercise and correcting nutritional deficiencies.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24682950


Dublin University, Irish Turf Club, Beaumont Hospital (Ireland, 2015)

"Musculoskeletal Health, Kidney and Liver Function in Retired Jockeys."
Cullen S (1), Donohoe A(1), McGoldrick A(2), McCaffrey N(1), Davenport C(3), Byrne B(3), Donaghy C(3), Tormey W(3), Smith D(3), Warrington G(1).
Author information
(1) School of Health & Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.
(2) The Turf Club, Kildare, Ireland.
(3) Academic Department of Endocrinology and Chemical Pathology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

The long-term implications of making-weight daily on musculoskeletal health and functioning of the kidney and liver remain unknown. This study aimed to investigate musculoskeletal health and kidney and liver function in a group of retired jockeys.

28 retired male jockeys (age 50-70 years) provided fasting blood samples for markers of bone metabolism and kidney and liver function. A dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scan was performed for the assessment of bone mineral density (BMD). Established reference ranges were used for interpretation of results. Comparisons were made between retired jockeys based on the professional racing licence held: Flat, National Hunt or Dual.

Mean whole-body osteopenia was reported, with no differences between groups. Bone markers, micronutrients, electrolytes and associated hormones, and markers for kidney and liver function were within clinical normative ranges.

No differences existed between groups. Results indicate the retired jockeys in this study do not demonstrate compromised bone health or kidney and liver function. However, the retired jockeys may not have undergone chronic weight cycling in the extreme manner evident in present-day jockeys, indicating the next generation of jockeys may face more of a problem. Jockeys should be tracked longitudinally throughout their racing career and beyond.
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26212243


Dublin City University (Ireland, 2015)

"The impact of making-weight on cognitive performance in apprentice jockeys"

Cullen S (1), Dolan E, McGoldrick A, Brien KO, Carson BP, Warrington G.
Author information
(1) Applied Sports Performance Research Group, School of Health and Human Performance , Dublin City University , Dublin , Ireland.

Jockeys regularly engage in rapid weight-loss practices in preparation for competition. These practices are thought to impair cognitive function, although the evidence in support of this theory remains inconclusive. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of making-weight on cognitive function in apprentice jockeys in a simulated and competitive environment.

Apprentice jockeys (n = 12) reduced their body mass by 4% in 48 h in a simulated environment using weight-loss methods typically adopted in preparation for racing. Simple and choice reaction time, attention, learning and memory were assessed before and after the weight loss.

A further 10 apprentice jockeys performed the cognitive function assessment in a competitive racing environment at both a self-reported "normal" and "light" body mass. Hydration status and body mass were assessed in all trials. In the simulated environment, body mass was reduced by 4.2 ± 0.3%, yet no change in cognitive function was observed.

Cognitive function also remained unchanged in the competitive environment after a body mass loss of 5.7 ± 1.9%. Typical reductions in body mass in preparation for racing have no effect on cognitive function in apprentice jockeys in a simulated and competitive environment. Further research is required to investigate the physiological mechanisms preventing the adverse effects of making-weight on cognitive function in jockeys.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25582959
J Sports Sci. 2015;33(15):1589-95. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2014.1002104. Epub 2015 Jan 13.

© Escuela de Jockeys Aprendices del Jockey Club Argentino Hipódromo de San Isidro .