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13 November 2014

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You are in: Berkshire > Local radio > Ascot > Day in the life of a jockey.

Jockey Martin Dwyer

Jockey Martin Dwyer

Day in the life of a jockey.

Wise-cracking jockey Martin Dwyer has won one of the greatest races in the world - the Epsom Derby. BBC Radio Berkshire caught up with Martin at Newbury Races, and found what it's like to spend a day in the life of a jockey.

Royal Ascot

I love Royal Ascot it comes smack ban in the middle of the season, the weather's normally good, it's a great atmosphere, and a great buzz. It's the best horses from around the country taking each other on, it's the pinnacle really, it's just great to be involved.

Martin racing on Alzerra at Ascot Racecourse in 2006

Martin Dwyer and Alzerra at Ascot, 2006.

Getting into racing

My dad used to take me to the betting shop to watch his bike, while he went to put his bets on. I've always been interested in horses when I was a kid. I learned to ride when I was about 14. It was just something I really wanted to do and it all fell in place for me really.

Career highlights

I've been lucky, there's been a lot of good moments, but I suppose the highlight was winning the Epsom Derby. It's one of the biggest races in the world and to win it is a great achievement.

Martin Dwyer celebrates winning the Epsom Derby on Sir Percy.

Martin Dwyer celebrates winning the Epsom Derby.

A typical day

A typical day in the summer in the middle of the season is pretty hectic. I'll probably have an early start at 5.30am, travel to one of the various yards I ride out for, ride a couple of horses and exercise, then I'll be back home, a quick shower, suit on and on to the races in the afternoon.

"I'll race all afternoon, then go on to an evening meeting, which can mean flying to another meeting in a small plane.
"I'll be home at 11pm or midnight, then do it all the next day."

Keeping his riding weight of 7st 11lbs

"It's a difficult balance, you need to keep your strength up and keep some energy, but you can't eat a lot.
"Really  when I'm  busy it's just one meal a day, or just snacking now and again. If you've taken a lot of liquid on you shouldn't need a lot of food anyway, maybe a bit of chicken or pasta in the evening. You can go for a couple of days without eating any meals, just snacking on a bit of fruit or something."

Ascot horse enters

Ascot horse enters

The dangers of the sport

With racehorses, it's always dangerous. They are flighty animals. You're travelling at speeds of 40mph so if you fall it can be serious. You just have to curl up and hope for the best. There are not as many falls on the flats as opposed to jump races, but they're usually more serious becuase we're travelling at higher speeds on faster ground. 

"The stalls can be a bit dangerous it's unnatural for a horse, especially young horses, with two-year-olds they can get a bit fractious, and they get pinned up against the stalls and you can fracture something doing that.

"The odd drunken punter wants to attack you now and again if he thinks you haven't ridden his horse properly! It's usually a good atmosphere on the big days, everybody's excited, the big meetings like Royal Ascot are great. It's good fun."

last updated: 16/06/2009 at 16:12
created: 15/06/2009

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