Day one of the Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Conference for Training and Education featured some very informative facts and discussions on various jockey-related topics at the National Archives, Abu Dhabi, on Thursday, November 10, 2016.
The conference is being held under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister And Minister of Presidential Affairs, as part of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival.
An impressive panel of speakers including Marcel De Bruyne, Director of Belgium Jockey Club, Yasser Mabrouk, Head of Arabic Department, Technical Manager, ERA, Kia Schirmann, Director, German Jockey School and Chief coach for Apprentice jockeys of the Festival, Pat Buckley, Racing Director, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, and Richard Mullen, UAE Jockey and Festival Ambassador, shared their expertise on the topic- ‘Jockey training Worldwide and Prevention of Racing Accidents.’ The session was moderated by Derek Thomson.
Following brief welcome speeches by Dr. Abdulla Alreyes, Director General of the National Archive, Najla Nasser, National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing, Sami Al Boenain -Chairman, IFAHR and Ahmed Saeed, from the Judicial Department, the sessions started.
Deliberating on the topic, Richard Mullen explained that falling and injuring themselves is part and parcel of racing, though he felt injuries were very rare in flat racing as against show jumping. “As competitors we all want to win, because there is a fine margin between bravery and stupidity,” he said.
Pat Buckley added that the safety aspect in any equestrian event is to do with the riders themselves. “Instead of indulging in revelry and stupidity the riders should concentrate more on the course and take extra precautions”, the former Grand National winning jockey said.
Yasser Mabrouk opined that there is no way of stopping the accidents “but you could only minimize them”. Stress should be laid on training, licensing, rules, fitness and health which could probably help in number of accidents being reduced, he added.
Marcel added that the mere fact that “accidents are accidental” they are not stoppable but could be avoided. He said since his tenure as the Director of Belgium Jockey in the last ten years, he has never seen such incidents.
Kai Schirmann felt factors like planning properly ahead of the race, getting to know the track very well before the race will contribute a great deal in avoiding such mishaps.
The speakers agreed that there are no perfect safety arrangements yet steps could be taken to minimize them or contain their impacts but you cannot stop them from happening.
Other suggestions included improvement of the jockey equipment; Apprentice jockeys should not ride unraced horses, Unification of the safety measures around the globe, Educational training for apprentice jockeys and medical preparedness at the stables and racecourse to attend any untoward incident.
The post- lunch second session on ‘Jockeys – High Performance Athletes – At The Top’ which was moderated by Gary Capwell from the UK included Remi Bellocq, Exec. Dir. North American Racing Academy, Melissa Weatherly, Athlete Development and Industry Careers Advisor, Racing Victoria, Anna Velasquez, School Director, Puerto Rico Jockey School, UAE-based jockey and Festival Ambassador Richard Mullen and American Julie Krone ( Star of fame jockey, Ambassador of HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival).
Julie, who was recently appointed HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival Ambassador, was a live wire and kept the audience enthralled with her expertise and experiences. As a jockey who started of her career in show jumping and then moved to flat bracing, she was all praise for the Festival which has given a wonderful opportunity for the racing industry to debate the various aspects of training, research and other allied issues.
Julie advised that if one wanted to be successful “you should trust your horsemanship, pay attention to smallest details and involve totally with your horse.”
Richard Mullen stated that “one should never give up on his dream and keep pursuing.”
Anna from Puerto Rico stated that they have made a good headway in their country despite the fact that language is a barrier. “We are working towards that” she said.
Remi Bellocq expressed that racing schools were doing a tremendous job in boosting the performance of the jockeys. “But talent is most essential in the racing field,” he added.
The panel advised the jockeys to focus on the physical fitness and know what kinds of exercise suit them. They all unanimously felt that the jockeys need to be strong and they must not compromise their ambitions to become good jockeys.
The third and last session of the day focused on “Controlled Jockey Diet, Weight Control & Nutrition” and it was moderated by Australian television presenter Victoria Shaw with panelists being -Dr. Georges Wilson from John Moores Liverpool University Researcher, Chantal Sutherland (Highest Earner Professional Female Jockey), Xavier Ziani ( Professional Jockey and Ambassador of HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival), Acaena Amoros and Mahi Aramideh, both from Elixir London Clinic and Dr. Jamal Hout (NAET Practitioner)
American rider Chantal Sutherland who had won a race at Dubai World Cup meeting in 2012, stated that it was tough for her to control weight. “After trying out various things, I found out that that yoga and weight training were the ones suited for my body, and this is important as each body has its own requirements and necessities.”
Ziani was of the view that Middle East in general and the UAE in particular posed great dangers of dehydration for jockeys because of the weather conditions. “You have to find a suitable programme that suits your body. I’m lucky that I am light but many jockeys struggle because of the weight.
Dr. Jamal said in many jockeys, energy balance is disrupted. He suggested that one should eat food that gives them the right energy. “It’s essential to eat right and do physical exercises from time to time.”
Dr. George made a PowerPoint presentation of main findings from the HH Sheikh Mansoor Festival-supported research at Liverpool John Moores University.
According to the findings: ‘Many jockeys have too high body fat% (14-16%) and there is scope to reduce down to lower levels (<10%) through education on nutrition.’
“Fasted exercise (first thing in morning) is the most effective way to reduce body weight – then eating 5 – 6 meals and snacks a day, high in protein, low in carbohydrate and adequate healthy fats (fish oils etc.)’
“Jockeys do not use up a large amount of energy during a typical racing day and therefore they need to do additional structured exercise to control weight effectively” Dr. George said.
Mahi and Acaena, who have been in the UAE from the last two years are professionally qualified nurses and have worked in the UK with cancer and HIV patients. “Diet played a big role in the health improvement of these patients, so we decided to open the Clinic to offer advice on healthy weight management through healthy eating.”
Other conclusions were that Muscles are heavier than fat, jockeys can always try to find suitable exercise for themselves and the correct approach to weight control is through right knowledge of diet and exercise.
The Conference continues on Friday.
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival is sustained by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and coordinated by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, with National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC as associate sponsors, IPIC as Strategic Partner, The National Archives as the official partner and Emirates airline as the official carriers, in cooperation with Emirates Racing Authority, IFAHR, Emirates Arabian Horse Society, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, General Authority of Youth and Sports Welfare and sponsored by Al Aweer Stables, Ayadii LLC, Global United Veterinary Services LLC, Bloom, Petromal, Rise General Trading Co. LLC, Hayatna, Wathba Stallions, Abu Dhabi Falconers Club, Emirates Falconers Club, Mohamed Bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, Omeir Travels, Dr Nader Saab Switzerland, Laboratories Fadia Karam Cosmetics, YAS Channel, Racing Post, Paris Turf, Al Wathba Centre, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, The Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2016, Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club, Eastern Mangroves Suites-Abu Dhabi by Jannah, Anantara Eastern Mangroves Spa and resort.