40-45 per week
If you are skilled in riding horses, and you have the determination to succeed, this could be for you.
Jockeys are contracted by licensed trainers to ride horses at race meetings. They race either on the flat (on a race track without obstacles) or across jumps (known as National Hunt racing).
In this job you will need to be fit, strong and have stamina. You will also need to have good eyesight and reactions.
To get into this job you usually need to start off as a stable hand and work your way up. You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme.
Your work as a jockey would include:
- planning racing strategies with the owner and trainer
- taking advice from the trainer on tactics to suit the horse and the track
- riding every day to exercise your horse
- riding your horse at flat or jump races at race tracks around the UK and possibly overseas.
You would specialise in either flat or jump racing, although you could take part in both.
You would work around 40 a week, depending on the number of races you take part in. You would attend races at courses throughout the UK, so you must be prepared to travel and spend time away from home.
Your work would be physically demanding, often involving early starts and late finishes. There is high risk of injury from falls and kicks.
Once qualified, professional jockeys receive a riding fee and a percentage of prize money. Some jockeys also secure sponsorship deals.
Pay rates for stable staff during training are on a sliding scale from A to D, which is based on level of experience and qualifications.
Grade A staff can expect around £16,000 a year. Grade B/C (age 21 and over) earn around £14,000. Grade B/C staff aged 18 to 20 can get up to £12,000. Grade D trainees at age 16 or 17 can earn between £7,500 and £9,000 a year.
Allowances are also paid for extended periods away from the stables and for overseas travel.
You can start working towards a career as a professional jockey whether you’re already employed in the industry, for example as a stable hand (also known as stable lass/lad), or are completely new to racing.
The first step is to apply to one of the two training centres that offers a residential foundation course, designed to see if you have the potential to progress on to a racing Apprenticeship, but also to give you the chance to see if this is what you really want to do.
The two training centres are:
- The British Racing School (BRS) at Newmarket
- Northern Racing College (NRS) at Doncaster.
The residential training lasts between nine and 12 weeks and includes training in the day-to-day tasks carried out in a racing yard, how to look after and ride race horses, and health and safety. You may have the option to complete the Level 1 Diploma in Work Based Racehorse Care and Riding. Check with the training centres for details.
If you are already working in a racing yard, you should speak to your employer about applying for the Apprenticeship programme.
If you do well on the residential course, you may be offered the opportunity to work in a racing stable and go on to do the full racing Apprenticeship. The Apprenticeship lasts between 12 and 18 months and you would be regularly assessed in your workplace, as well as completing the Level 2 Diploma in Work Based Racehorse Care.
Each racing school has course eligibility requirements, in particular, to do with age, weight and previous education. Please contact them for more details about this, and also for more information about open days and taster sessions.
You can find detailed information about careers in the industry on the British Horseracing Authority’s careersinracing website.
You can also check the Apprenticeships website for details of apprenticeship schemes in horseracing.
Training and development
During your training, your employer takes responsibility for where and which horses you ride, and assesses when you are competent and ready to race (usually after about two years). You would also apply to the British Horseracing Authority for a licence to ride as:
- an apprentice jockey (for flat racing)
- a conditional jockey (for jump racing).
Before the licence is awarded, you would need to take a 5-day residential Apprentice or Conditional Licence course at the BRS in Newmarket or the NRC in Doncaster. You will also need to pass a medical.
Once you have your licence, you would go on to complete your apprenticeship training at your employer's yard to become a professional jockey.
To keep your licence, you would need to continue your development by taking a 4-day Apprentice/Conditional Continuation course and an Apprentice/Conditional Advanced course, depending on how many winners you’ve ridden.
You can also move on to the Advanced Apprenticeship scheme and work towards the Level 3 Diploma in Work Based Racehorse Care and Management. You will need this if you want to become a racehorse trainer.
See the BRS, NRC and careersinracing websites for more details about professional development training. They also have information on other roles within horseracing and details about riding as an amateur jockey.
Skills, interests and qualities
To become a jockey you should have:
- a high level of skill in riding and handling horses
- fitness, strength and stamina
- determination and dedication
- good eyesight and fast reaction speeds
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to cope with the risks and pressures of racing
- knowledge of horse care and welfare.
British Horseracing Authority
The British Racing School (BRS)
Tel: 01638 665103
Northern Racing College (NRC)
Great North Road
Tel: 01302 861000
Jockeys Employment and Training Scheme (JETS)
39b Kingfisher Court
Tel: 01635 230410
Tel: 02476 696996
There are around 600 racing stables throughout the country, mainly in rural areas. Employment prospects for trained stable hands are usually good, but progression to apprentice jockey is very competitive, and becoming a successful professional jockey even more so. There are currently over 400 professional jockeys.
As a professional jockey, you may work for one trainer or owner, or ride for different trainers and owners as a self-employed jockey. You could work for stables overseas, especially in Dubai, Japan and the USA.
You can search for jobs in the industry on the careersinracing website.
You would usually retire from riding by age 45 (35 for jump jockeys). At the end of your riding career you can get advice on retraining and employment from the Jockeys Employment and Training Scheme.
Related industry information
The equine industry is part of the environmental and land‐based industries, represented by Lantra Sector Skills Council, which also includes the following industries: agricultural crops; agricultural livestock; animal care; animal technology; aquaculture; environmental conservation; farriery; fencing; fisheries management; floristry; game and wildlife management; land‐based engineering; horticulture, landscape and sports turf; production horticulture; trees and timber; and veterinary nursing. The sector as a whole currently employs 1,126,000 people (approximately 4% of the UK workforce) in around 230,000 businesses. In addition, there are an estimated 500,000 volunteers working in the sector on a regular basis. Approximately 42% of the workforce is self‐employed.
Equine industry includes the welfare, husbandry, supervision and riding of horses, which means there are opportunities ranging from livery operations to thoroughbred racehorse training. Employers in the industry include: riding schools; livery yards; racing yards; breeders; trainers; and those involved in various other equine‐related activities, such as coaches and rehabilitation. Equine encompasses:
- Riding schools and livery yards
- Competition and racing yards
- Working horses
- Clubs and hunts
- Diversified equine activities
- Equine paraprofessionals, such as Equine Dental Technicians, Barefoot Trimmers (i.e. people who trim horses’ hooves that do not have shoes)
- There are 20,700 people working in the industry, in around 3,450 businesses.
- There are approximately 100 barefoot trimmers and 200 equine dental technicians in the UK.
- 80% of businesses employ 5 or less staff, 18% employ between 6‐25 staff, and only 2% employing between 26‐100 staff.
- Volunteers are a significant part of the workforce within the industry.
Jobs in the industry include: apprentice jockey, performance groom, PTT instructor, BHSAI Assistant Instructor, stable person, stallion handler, Coach Level 1 Stud Yard Supervisor, Coach Level 2 Stud‐hand, Coach Level 3 Supervised/Assistant Groom, foaling specialist, trek leader, yard manager, horse transporter, yearling manager, jockey.
National and regional data
East Midlands – There are an estimated 1,900 employees in the regional workforce, in around 300 businesses.
East of England – There are an estimated 3,250 employees in the regional workforce, in around 450 businesses.
London – There are an estimated 1,000 employees in the regional workforce, in around 250 businesses.
North East – There are an estimated 500 employees in the regional workforce, in around 100 businesses.
North West – There are an estimated 1,850 employees in the regional workforce, in around 250 businesses.
South East – There are an estimated 3,550 employees in the regional workforce, in around 600 businesses.
South West – There are an estimated 2,700 employees in the regional workforce, in around 400 businesses.
West Midlands – There are an estimated 2,450 employees in the regional workforce, in around 300 businesses.
Yorkshire and the Humber – There are an estimated 1,550 employees in the regional workforce, in around 300 businesses.
Northern Ireland – There are an estimated 350 employees in the regional workforce, in around 50 businesses.
Scotland – There are an estimated 1,000 employees in the regional workforce, in around 250 businesses.
Wales – There are an estimated 550 employees in the regional workforce, in around 150 businesses.
[N.B. Data derived from Experian National Surveys Database, 2008.]
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