Unlike humans, the equine athlete’s positioning, speed and racing strategy are determined by the jockey.
The jockey’s balance and weight transfer, the positioning of their body and of the horse throughout a race, and inherent skill play an integral part in the sport. To succeed, the jockey must be an expert judge of the horse’s pace and its capabilities.
The jockey represents not only added weight for the horse but also additional surface area, which increases the overall aerodynamic drag.
It is in this area that the jockey can learn from competitors in other high-speed sports, including road and track cycling, speed skating and downhill ski racing.
Competitors in these events have discovered the value of wearing aero clothing designed to reduce aerodynamic drag. It is estimated that 25% of a horse’s energy is expended to overcome air resistance at high speeds.
Improvements in the aerodynamic profiling of the jockey’s riding position throughout the entire race and wearing form-fitting aero clothing would certainly reduce this percentage and indisputably influence the outcome of closely contested races.
We should, therefore, expect far more attention to be paid to this area. Regrettably professional horse racing is the only speed-vital sport impervious to the advantages synonymous with aerodynamics.
The quest for a faster outcome is critical to all other high-performance sports teams and individualists striving for superiority and unconditionally demanding excellence from their professional sporting uniform makers.
The “Monkey on a Stick” position preferred by most professional jockeys worldwide opens up the possibility that it is one of two great reasons race/track record times have remained pretty much unchanged for decades.
Despite all the ‘advances’ in racecourse/horse training technology; the wind exposed position of the jockey on the back of a speeding horse continues to generate excessive, undesirable, energy sapping drag.
The second most obvious reason is the insistence for Silk makers to supply and their unwitting clients to buy and then outfit jockeys in flappy, floppy, retropulsive silks/colours. This anachronistic practice has persisted virtually unmodified for 250 years!
(Retropulsion is a situation in which something is pushed, forced or pulled backwards.)
Racehorse Owners and Trainers ask yourselves why would you continue to send out your contracted riders on a mission of expectation to win wearing colours that hinder speed?
Yes, it is the jockey’s responsibility to make themselves a ‘tiny target’ and maintain a low and tight position throughout a race and in the vigorous and rigorous stretch launch down heartbreak alley.
We should follow the industry leaders in all things Thoroughbred, Japan; from underdogs to giant killers in little more than four decades, where, amidst many other hugely influential developments, form-fit colours are an industry standard.
Darby Racing Technology have taken the Japanese pursuit for perfection to another level by developing Speed Silks® – the only Race Silks in the world custom-made from a dedicated Sporting Competition textile – Aero Dimplex® – wind tunnel tested the fastest material on the planet between 22 kph and 75 kph.
The British Horseracing Association Chief Medical Advisor Dr Jerry Hill states “jockeys are elite athletes”. He is absolutely 100% right! It’s now 2017. Let’s be positive and outfit jockeys like every other professional sportsperson pursuing the desire to be first over the line, within the rules and without repercussions.