UK racing will maintain its COVID-safety approach, limiting professional jockeys to riding only one meeting per day.
The decision was announced by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) following consultation with riders, trainers and further safety stakeholders.
A limit on jockey runs was introduced during 2020 as part of a series of initial measures designed to ensure the spring/summer return of UK racing behind closed doors following the first COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
The BHA has announced that the ‘one-meeting per day protocol’ will be extended through to 2022, with the safety measure applied to all codes of professional UK racing.
Richard Wayman, Chief Operating Officer of the BHA, said: “It is our job to do everything we can to ensure the welfare of our jockeys and it has become clear over the last year that the overwhelming majority of jockeys appreciate no longer competing at multiple meetings per day, and having to contend with the physical and mental pressures this placed upon them.”
Supporting the BHA’s decision, the PJA disclosed that it had undertaken a welfare survey with its membership, in which 72% of jockeys supported the safety measure being maintained.
“Based on the survey results, the PJA board had no hesitation in asking the BHA to take this step, and I am sure that the vast majority of the membership will be pleased that it remains in place throughout 2022,” read a PJA statement.
Dale Gibson, Executive Director (Racing) of the PJA, added: “Horseracing is incredibly demanding on trainers, jockeys and racing staff, particularly given the size of the fixture list. When you factor in early morning work, extensive mileage, financial uncertainty and the significant physical and mental challenges of being a jockey, it’s arguably the most challenging of professional sports for an athlete.”