Article Text

Are physiological attributes of jockeys predictors of falls? A pilot study
  1. P Hitchens1,
  2. L Blizzard1,
  3. G Jones1,
  4. L Day2,
  5. J Fell3
  1. 1Menzies Research Institute, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  2. 2Monash Injury Research Institute, Monash University, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3School of Human Life Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Peta Hitchens; Peta.Hitchens{at}


Objectives This pilot study describes the physiological attributes of jockeys and track-work riders in Tasmania and investigates whether these attributes are associated with falls.

Methods All jockeys and track-work riders licensed in Tasmania were invited to participate. The study group consisted of eight jockeys (two female, six male) and 20 track-work riders (14 female, six male). Measures of anthropometry, balance, reaction time, isometric strength, vertical jump, glycolytic and aerobic fitness, flexibility and body composition were conducted. Tests were designed to assess specific aspects of rider fitness and performance relevant to horse racing. For a subset of participants (n=14), the authors obtained information on falls and injuries. The authors used Poisson regression to estimate incidence rate ratios.

Results Jockeys had better balance, a faster mean reaction time, a lower fatigue index and a higher estimated V.O2max than their track-work riding counterparts. Jockeys were also younger and smaller in stature than track-work riders, and when differences in body mass were taken into account, they had a greater muscular strength and muscular (alactic) power. Important factors found to be associated with falls were lower aerobic and anaerobic fitness, greater muscular strength and power, and riding with the full foot in the stirrup irons compared with riding on the ball of the foot.

Conclusion This pilot study shows that physiological attributes of jockeys and track-work riders can predict their risk of falling and are measurable using methods feasible for large-scale fieldwork.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • To cite: Hitchens P, Blizzard L, Jones G, et al. Are physiological attributes of jockeys predictors of falls? A pilot study. BMJ Open 2011;1:e000142. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2011-000142

  • Funding Monetary donations for this project were received from Betfair Australasia, TOTE Tasmania and the Tasmanian Thoroughbred Racing Council.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethical approval Ethics approval was provided by the Human Research Ethics Committee (Tasmania) (Reference Number H0009692).

  • Contributors All authors contributed to the analysis and interpretation of data, review and revision of the manuscript critically for important intellectual content, and provided final approval of the version to be published. Additionally, PH, LB and JF contributed to the conception and design of the study, acquisition of data and drafting of the manuscript.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement Informed consent for data sharing was not obtained from participants. Additionally, data cannot be shared due to the risk of participant identification.

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