A new coaching and mentoring programme to improve horsemanship among young jockeys has been launched by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA).

Former top jockeys Mick Fitzgerald and Kevin Darley are among eight new “jockey coaches” to recently receive a top-level qualification, enabling them to coach on the new scheme.

For the past year Mick and Kevin along with John Reid, Richard Perham, Michael Tebbutt, Graham Lee, Craig Benton and Jimmy Bleasdale have been training for their UKCC coaching qualification. They have all successfully completed the course, which is a widely regarded qualification used across the board in a majority of sports.

“The coaches have really committed themselves to achieving the UKCC qualification,” said Sam Martin from the BHA. “This coaching initiative is the first step in developing more comprehensive training for jockeys throughout their careers.”

Sixteen newly licensed jockeys — eight conditional jockeys from the Northern Racing College and eight apprentice jockeys from the British Racing School — will pilot the brand new coaching and mentoring programme.

Each young jockey has been allocated one of the coaches. They will provide the jockeys with one-to-one coaching focusing on riding technique, motivation, fitness and communication skills.

The jockeys will receive coaching until they have “ridden out their claim” (a weight allowance for less experienced jockeys, which is reduced the more winners they ride).

“This been needed for some time and is a great step in the right direction” said Mick Fitzgerald. “I only wish it had been available when I was riding. I’m really looking forward to coaching and giving something back to the industry.”

In the new year 16 more jockeys will be included in the programme. And a second intake of eight new jockey coaches — including Jimmy McCarthy, Warren Marston and Christian Williams — will start their UKCC qualification in September.

And the scheme has the approval of Yogi Breisner, coach assessor and British eventing team chef d’equipe, who said it will “benefit racing as a whole”.

For more information visit: www.britishhorseracing.com