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Sport

The Jockey’s Journal: Compensation for jockeys is new to me, but someone has to pay out

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THERE’S a big meeting in Qatar in a few weeks. It’s an exciting fixture in a country where racing is definitely on its way up.

Similar to Dubai, it’s a place where racing is gaining a big profile.

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There’s a perception that racing in the heat is tough, and at times it is. Some jockeys prefer to just fly in for the race and fly out so the body doesn’t get used to the climate.

The problem is that for some jockeys they get heavier, whilst others get lighter. I find that when I fly I swell up a little bit as my body retains more water, so I’m a pound or two heavier.

In the Middle East the races take place at night where it’s a lot cooler, but I know a lot of lads that went to Barbados to ride in the Winter Jockeys’ Challenge and they said they’d never ridden in anything so warm.

Riding in the mid-day heat must be hard, and they said by the time you got to the post you felt two pounds lighter.

In Britain and Ireland the heat is not something we need to deal with, but water-logged racecourses unfortunately is.

Last weekend, the Welsh Champion Hurdle at the Ffos Las course was called off.

I heard that some of the jockeys were to be compensated, which is fantastic. It’s a new thing to me; it’s not the norm and I think it’s very much down to the owner Dai Walters. He’s great for the jump industry.

The course and the Professional Jockeys Association decided to compensate some of the jockeys, after the organisers gave the race every chance they could. 

In the last 15 years I’ve been racing, I’ve had five or six last second abandonments within an hour before the race.

It’s hard, definitely, but it’s understood. I’ve often been in the car when the races have been called off.

Just last Friday at Musselburgh we had hard frost, the conditions were bad.

Within two or three hours of being there parts of the track became un-raceable. Jockeys and trainers just want to race when they’re there and you do everything in your power to get the race going, but there’s more to it that goes on behind the scenes.

Put it this way, at Wetherby there’s potentially £4,000-£5,000 up for grabs if you’re riding four or five races and get winners.

If the race is called off that’s a huge loss of earnings.

If that was your day-to-day job and you lost £3,000 in one day, you’d be looking for compensation.

It’s the climate we live in and it’s horrible that someone has to pay out, whether it’s insurance companies, owners or jockeys.

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Dougie Costello
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Jump jockey Dougie Costello writes a weekly column for The Irish Post print edition every Wednesday. Check out his tips every week and follow Dougie on Twitter @DougieCostello

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