NO ONE is coming up with any sort of alternative – and yet ’saunas are not the answer’ people still write and cry. Oh my.
The concept that saunas affect jockeys’ athletic performance and that racing‘s rulers are saving them from disaster is, to be quite frank, quite ridiculous.
GettyTom Marquand is one of many jockeys to speak out about the lack of saunas[/caption]
It’s as if people are judging horseracing like it’s some playful sport, rather than an industry.
Most jockeys, like most people in any sport, perform every day with some sort of injury. That in itself is much more serious than any small amount of time spent in a sauna. But we trust them not to put themselves or others in danger.
Saunas might not be ideal. A headache might not be ideal. Feeling sick after a dodgy meal might not be ideal. They might all in their own way affect a jockeys performance. But we’re talking in such small amounts that you just have to let them get on with it.
They know the dangers. You can’t treat every adult like a child. No saunas on a racetrack is purely down to money.
They should be there even if only one jockey uses them a week. It’s part of being a jockey. Part of the sport.
One of the most frustrating developments of the current battle over saunas being ‘in or out’ between the Professional Jockeys’ Association, British Horseracing Authority and Racecourse Association has been the cop out suggestion from those in power that their reasoning is all for the good of the riders. Just nonsense.
Actually, it’s the opposite. It’s a classic case of a sporting body using the ‘sport’ aspect as a red-herring.
If the BHA really believes what it is saying, then how does it justify asking jumps jockeys to ride at 40mph at a fence or hurdle? How does it justify a huge field of sprinters hurling down five furlongs at Epsom, or Brighton or Goodwood?
You see, if you really believe this sport should not be dangerous for jockeys, then the sport just stops.
It’s the same concept as sending soldiers to war. No doctor is going to say that’s a good idea. It clearly is not. But some people choose being a soldier as their job. There are risks.
Being a jockey is a job, it’s a way of making a living and putting food on the table. It’s a decision taken by someone wanting to build a career riding horses.
Now don’t get me wrong, anything that helps safety is important and should always be explored, I and all riders are totally behind that.
But ultimately most jockeys will have to lose weight and they all know that – until someone magics up an alternative saunas are the answer.
To take them away before coming up with an alternative – if there is one, which is hugely unlikely – is outrageous.
All the BHA tell us is they are having lots of conversations with people. Without ever putting forward a solution.
At the very least provide evidence – which jockeys over the last 50 years have suffered from sauna use? I’ve not seen one name put forward.
Just listen to Josephine Gordon, who spoke to me on ITV’s Opening Show on Saturday morning.
Gordon said: “My alarm went off this morning at a quarter to five and I galloped once for Mr Dunlop.
“Because I have 8st 4lb today I’m going to have to have a little sweat before racing and then drive for three hours feeling a little bit rough.
“That’s all going back to the saunas. If we had the saunas at the races I’d be able to drive three hours and only feel rough for an hour of sweating at the races. It’s just one of those things at the moment.”
And the BHA think it’s doing jockeys a favour? Nonsense.
Tom Marquand needs to keep his weight at 8st 8lb the other day. The video attached shows just some of the work he had to put in to do that.
Horse racing is dangerous, so make the life of riders easier, not harder.
Those in power have done this the wrong way round. Saunas should come back. Then filter the new generation gradually through the system and regulate the time they are allowed to use the saunas.
Tailor the new young jockeys coming through to their ultimate weight and, while all you will end up with is robots, you will eventually solve the problems.
But that’s a twenty year plan. Not one solved in a day.
On the horse front it came as no surprise to anyone Desert Crown was yesterday ruled out of Wednesday’s Juddmonte International after yet another setback.
Wishing Desert Crown to run has been like hoping Frankel makes a comeback.
The former Derby hero has had issue after issue since his Epsom success, despite running the race of his life against Hukum at Sandown earlier this term.
No one wants Desert Crown injured or retired. But I won’t be alone in thinking there is an element of what goes around comes around here after the pathetic treatment of Richard Kingscote since that Brigadier Gerard defeat.
All the stress he has had to endure since Sandown has been totally unnecessary. Enough to bring anyone out in a sweat!
Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply. Begambleaware.org
Remember to gamble responsibly
A responsible gambler is someone who:
Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
Never chases their losses
Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org