Jockey health and nutrition education to be subject of major new Racing PhD

02 Apr 2015 Education/Training

  • Scientific and research PhD to be co-funded by the BHA and Liverpool John Moores University
  • Study to focus on jockey nutrition, physiology and health
  • Outputs will include comprehensive health education package for riders and best practice guides on catering for racecourses
  • Three-year paid position open to applications now

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) have today announced the launch of a major PhD study into jockey nutrition and wellbeing, with the intention of using the findings to educate jockeys in better fitness and dietary practices.

The PhD is co-funded by the BHA and LJMU and ensures the availability of scientific, robust evidence into the physiology and health of jockeys as well as their nutritional awareness and practices.

The intention is to use the findings of the study to create a comprehensive education package on good health and nutritional practices that can be used to support jockeys’ wellbeing and long-term fitness. The education package will be built on current provision and in partnership with the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA), Racecourse Association (RCA) and both the Northern Racing College and British Racing School.

A best-practices guide will also be produced for racecourses designing new menus for the jockey changing rooms. This guide will reflect the findings in the study, to support jockeys as they adopt better nutritional behaviour.

The PhD will last three years and will be based at LJMU’s Sport and Exercise Sciences department. There is one full-time, paid placement for a PhD-level student to complete the study and recruitment for this role is now open. For more information email subjects for the study will largely be recruited from the Northern Racing College and British Racing School.

Dr Jerry Hill, Chief Medical Advisor for the BHA, said:

“This PhD study is an exciting opportunity for racing to learn more about the health and dietary habits of jockeys and enables us to produce comprehensive health and nutritional advice.

“Over the years we have, as a sport, taken significant measures to improve jockey welfare, but the findings from this study means we will further understand the needs of our riders, meaning we are better prepared to provide jockeys with the best possible support required as professional sportspeople.

“By co-funding the PhD we seek to safeguard the health and improve the welfare of jockeys for years to come.”

Dr Graeme Close, LJMU Reader in Applied Physiology and Sport Nutrition, said:

“The introduction of a PhD is the next stage in LJMU’s international research study, focusing on improving jockeys’ performance using a scientific diet plan that promotes nutritional awareness and practices. We continue to undertake work with high profile jockeys, including Franny Norton, Frankie Dettori and Harry Haynes through a partnership with the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival and are delighted to work with Dr Jerry Hill and the British Horseracing Authority.

“Alongside the PhD, this will provide a comprehensive education package on good health and nutritional practices that can be used to support jockeys and the racing industry, proving that together we can make a huge difference.”

Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the PJA, said:

“Anything that improves the welfare and wellbeing provision of jockeys is a good thing and we therefore support this new PhD study. This initiative, following on from the ground-breaking research of the team at Liverpool John Moores University, will build on and enhance the existing work of the PJA’s Nutrition team, who have done an excellent job from a very limited budget. The research will also dovetail nicely with the ongoing review of jockey training and will help shape future training provision in this area.”


 Notes to editors:

 1. For more information on the PhD and those wishing to apply for the PhD please contact:

2. The PhD will be made up of four studies:

  • To identify the ethnography of the average apprentice jockey to allow more suitable education packages to be developed.
  • To assess the physical and mental health of trainee jockeys in the first week at training college to identify if the adverse effects are apparent before the jockeys begin their weight-making lifestyle.
  • To develop and assess the effectiveness of a nutritional education package to be delivered at the racing schools alongside social media packages to educate the jockeys.
  • To redevelop the food provision at racecourses in the UK and to assess the effectiveness of this change on nutritional behaviour and the health of the jockeys.

3. The PJA Nutrition team comprises Julia Scott Douglas, Rhiannon Britton and Daniel Martin. Their role is to provide regular guidance, support and advice to PJA Members. This includes:

  • The production of Fuelling Winners, the jockeys guide to healthy eating and easy cooking- a third edition will be published this year
  • Regular and ongoing advice and support for PJA members through via Twitter @NutritionPJA
  • Involvement in educating jockeys about the importance of good nutrition habits, at Racing Schools and as part of the Injured Jockeys Fund academy
  • Working with racecourses to improve the on-course provision to jockeys