Sunday 23 October 2016

Track Talk: Jump jockeys need to be told to go and take a break for a week

Edward Harty, Frank Berry and Mark Walsh
Edward Harty, Frank Berry and Mark Walsh

A memorable jump season ended at Punchestown on Saturday but, amazingly, the new season started just 42 hours and 10 minutes later at Down Royal on Monday.

It seems crazy that jump jockeys don’t even get a week to themselves before getting back into the swing of things and putting their bodies through strains that most of us wouldn’t even dream of.

Many weeks of the season have one meeting between Sunday and Saturday, when you might have Thurles on a Thursday, so what is wrong with this week signing off at Punchestown and then not returning until Saturday, or even Friday evening?

When I made this suggestion on Twitter on Monday it was met with a lot of agreement while there were some who suggested that the top lads could take a week off if they want and give some of the other lads opportunities.

But this is not in the mentality of jump jockeys and my point is: why should they have to turn down rides?

Why can’t they just take away the races for one week? The world won’t end if there’s no jump racing in Ireland for a week.

Jump jockeys, by their nature, try to bounce up after every fall and there’s an old theory that the first thing a jockey says when he gets to his feet after a fall is “Where’s my stick?”

It’s probably fair to say they’re bodies are never fully right and they don’t get the time to recover.

A week off would surely do them the world of good.

Davy Russell rushed back for the Punchestown Festival and didn’t have any booked rides at Down Royal or yesterday’s cancelled Ballinrobe meeting nor did Bryan Cooper, who obviously had that horrific leg break last year and can be seen with a visible limp, and a presumption is that they’re trying to get themselves right but in doing so they’ve to turn down rides.

Mark Walsh was in action Monday but he too rushed back from broken bones to get to Punchestown and it was certainly a decision that paid off for him but again you’d have to feel that a free week would do him no harm.

The other angle to this is that on Monday we had a Curragh meeting with three pattern races and opportunities were limited for rides but a double Flat meeting on Monday would have opened up a lot of opportunities for those struggling to get going this Flat season so there would have been many winners.

But to expect jockeys to stand themselves down is just never going to happen and surely it’s about time someone stood up and took away the opportunity for the week and if anything add in a couple more meetings the following week.

In what other sport, with comparing physicality, is the seasonal gap so short?

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