Racing: How and Why Pat Eddery will be the next champion jockey

Pat Eddery will secure the Flat jockeys' championship at the end of the Turf season a fortnight tomorrow. It will be the 41-year-old Irishman's 10th title since he rode his first winner, Alvaro, back in 1969. He notched up the 2,000 Guineas on Zafonic and the Irish Derby and Oaks double on Commander In Chief and Wemyss Bight, and he has not only ridden more winners than any other jockey in Britain this year but has comfortably the best strike rate, around 21 per cent.

The Mind. The horse, the greater physical part of a racing partnership, has little idea of what he is doing. The concept of winning a race - getting from point A to an arbitrary point B before the others - exists only in the mind of the humans surrounding him. So it is up to the jockey to read a race, and Eddery's judgement of pace and when to pounce is top-class. His intimate knowledge of racecourses goes without saying. After 26 years in the saddle he will have ridden Britain's 35 Flat courses in all sorts of weather and going.

The Body Eddery is 5'6' and can get his weight down to 8st 4lb. He is not a natural lightweight, but does not need to resort to severe wasting. The Z-shaped jockey crouch and the strain of riding a half-ton animal at 35 mph-plus tends to develop the back and shoulder muscles. One of Eddery's great assets is his strength in a close finish. His very active style as he drives a horse to the line, moving in the rhythm of the gallop stride, is not everyone's cup of tea, but the technique is powerfully effective.

The X Factor: Horse-power. Eddery is a top jockey because of his talent, flair and dedication, but the best jockey in the world cannot win on a donkey. Eddery will be champion again because more than 160 (so far) of the horses he has ridden this year have been the best in their races, from selling plates to classics, under the given conditions. His main employer, Khaled Abdullah, has some of the classiest runners in the world, and he is a regular on those from the winner-producing machine of trainer Richard Hannon.

The Hands A jockey's contact with his horse is largely through his hands. They hold the reins, which are attached to the metal bit in the racehorse's sensitive mouth. Apart from basic instructions about speed and direction, all sorts of messages can travel down the reins, almost like electrical impulses. Poor riders, with rough or frightened hands, can unsettle or ruin a horse. But the top jockeys communicate positively. Good hands, light but confident, can kid a horse, who would easily win any straight battle of strength. They could settle a hard puller on a piece of silk ribbon, and their worth cannot be overestimated.

Empathy Being a champion race-rider is not only a matter of jockey technique, which can be improved with practice, but the great horseman's gift of empathy with an animal. Eddery will often meet a mount for the first time when he is legged up in the parade ring before a race, but will have him summed up and on his side by the time he gets to post. And he not only gets on with horses, he gets on with the people in the business too.

Homework A jockey's work does not end when he passes the finishing post; he will spend hours absorbing knowledge from the form-book, weighing up all the options before seeking or accepting a ride. A champion like Eddery will also be up at dawn in all weathers test-driving; riding exercise or work on the home gallops, getting to know, judging and improving horses and communicating that knowledge to the trainer.

(Graphic omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin