Jockey safety to the fore as BHA switches to new body protectors

28 Jun 2018 BHA Features Welfare
  • Jockeys given 1lb extra weight allowance at scales owing to increased weight of new, enhanced body protectors

Following a period of industry consultation, the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced today that, from 1 October 2018, the minimum acceptable standard for a safety vest (body protector) for race riding for jockeys of all disciplines will be increased. As a result, all jockeys will be required to wear the new “Level 2” body protectors, rather than the current “Level 1” model.

This change, the first since 2015, is due to the fact that the Level 2 vest offers superior protection of up to 50% to the Level 1 vest against direct blows such as kicks.

The Irish racing authorities introduced this garment in 2017 and the French are expected to do so in 2019. The BHA elected to wait and monitor the situation in Ireland to see if any unusual patterns of injury emerged owing to the new design. No such pattern has been observed and Dr Adrian McGoldrick, the Senior Medical Officer at the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) has been happy to endorse the Level 2 vest, as have a number of senior riders in Ireland including Ruby Walsh and Kevin Manning.

Aidan Coleman said:

“I had to wear one when I rode in Ireland about 18 months ago and when I got back to England I immediately ordered two, and have been wearing them ever since.”

Ruby Walsh said:

“I think there there’s a huge improvement between the Level 1 and Level 2 back protectors. From taking heavy enough falls riding in Steeple Chase races to horses landing on you, standing on you, kicking you, I find the Level 2 provides way more protection.”

Acknowledging that the new vests weigh between 0.4-0.6lbs more than the Level 1 vest the BHA has agreed to allow an extra one pound at scales bringing the allowance for safety equipment to 3lbs. This allowance does not impact on any other weight allowances.

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

“I am delighted that the Level 2 vests will be introduced as they offer enhanced protection compared to the Level 1 vest, and the extra weight allowance is very welcome. Through the use of the BHA digital archive with our academic research partners at the Universities of Bath and Sydney Australia we will be monitoring falls patterns to see how we might introduce further policies to reduce injuries in racing, with an emphasis on spinal injuries.”

Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) said:

“This is a good development. The new vests are another big step forward for the safety of our jockeys, and the feedback we have heard so far from Ireland is all positive. The extra 1lbs allowance is also a big help.”

Notes to Editors

1. The new Level 2 body protectors must comply with EN 13158: 2009 or 2018.