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The Weekly Blog

A Tall Story

Finally, this week, the answer to a question that I’m sure has been on your mind for ages: why is that there aren’t any famous Bulgarian jockeys, or Danish or Dutch ones?

Go on, try and name one.

I’ve just googled “Famous Bulgarian Jockey” and the only valid result  was a photo of Sertas Ferhanov being deposited on the floor during the 2015 running of the Velká Pardubická.

Flying the flag for Holland, Adrie de Vries seems to have enjoyed a terrific career, but he’s nearly the same age as me.

Denmark is fairing a little bit better, having exported Kevin Stott who burst onto the scene with a Royal Ascot winner in 2020 (beating Ryan Moore – who rides Saturday’s selection, Talis Evolvere in the 2.00pm at Lingfield). Stott rode 116 winners in 2022 and enjoyed his most recent victory at Chelmsford last week, but he does have an English dad and – here comes the important point – he was reportedly turned down for a career in professional football at an early age because he was too short.

According to research published this week, children in Bulgaria, Denmark and Holland are all growing at a faster rate than children in Britain. A summary of studies indicates that the average height of a five-year-old British boy in 2019 was 112.5cm, 1.1cm taller than the average in 1985. British girls were 111.7cm tall in 2019 (0.7cm taller than they were in 1985).

On the other hand, the average height of five-year-old Bulgarian boys and girls in 2019 was 121cm and 118cm respectively; Dutch children were 119.6cm and 118.4cm; Danish 117.4cm and 118.1cm (yes it seems that Danish girls are taller than Danish boys – but they’re all significantly taller than their French, German, Italian or British counterparts).

The increasing height of children has been concerning some of us in racing for a while, because tall jockeys find it harder to make the weight. In fact, one of the key considerations in the draft designs for our proposed new Weighing Room at Kelso Racecourse is the amount of space allocated for female changing – because conventional wisdom suggests that, as the size of the human population increases, female jockeys will gain a competitive advantage by being able to live more healthily while riding at low weights.

Like every other racecourse in the country, we’ve been working on ways to provide equal access for both male and female jockeys to the valet’s area, catering facilities and the physio within the Weighing Room. Unfortunately, however, the beautifully antiquated facilities accommodated on the ground floor of Kelso’s two-hundred year old grandstand just don’t have sufficient space. We have therefore been developing plans for an entirely new building, which will contain plenty of space for both male and female jockeys.

To be as inclusive as possible, we’ll consider signage in different languages, but we just might not bother sign-posting the jockeys’ doors in Bulgarian, Danish or Dutch…