Confessions of a racing jockey

Confessions of a racing jockey

Like a runway model, he puts on his game face and struts in the presence of men and women, who are mostly fashionably dressed.

As macho as Jim is (not his real name as he didn't get the official nod from his bosses and horse owners to speak on record), he, like a model, often wears colourful "silks" - soft, shiny tops that catch the spotlight at the track.

Many think that jockeying, like modelling, is glamorous. After all, a rider gets admiring glances all the time, especially from the lovely lasses.

Well, not quite that glamourous, Jim replies.

In less than 30 minutes, the bright racing silks will be pelted with sand and rainwater.

Says Jim, who has been in the saddle for more than 10 years: "(The racing silks) are designed to be bold and loud so that race callers (commentators) can easily identify us when the race starts.

Like models, jockeys obsess about their weight.

Jim, who weighs a svelte 52kg and is about 1.5m tall, says: "I really have to watch my weight and what I eat because an extra kilo gained will slow down my horse."

But skin and bones will not cut it: Jockeys need muscle, strength and endurance, so Jim runs three times a week and hits the gym to strengthen his thighs and calves.

Oily and fatty foods are out of the question.

So are late-night parties. Rest is vital as Jim reports to work at 6.30am for the daily trackwork. He rides about 10 horses, one after another.

He listens to his trainer's instructions on how to "run" the horses during training.

This wiry, macho man suddenly becomes tender at the mention of his horses, calling them Mother Nature's "works of art".

Before the race, Jim calms his horse by gently stroking its mane or shoulders.

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