New research from Ireland has found that jockeys are potentially harming their health and leaving themselves open to suffering osteoporosis in later life in attempts to achieve their minimum riding weights, reports the Racing Post.

The research, carried out in association with Limerick University, found that the majority of flat jockeys were abnormally dehydrated with lower than recommended levels of body fat. Also more than half had reduced bone density, which could lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis.

Jump jockeys taking part in the research had better bone density than the flat jockeys — although this was still below that of a typical sportsman — but over half had below the recommended level of body fat and hydration.

The research has led to calls for a revision of the minimum weight for jockeys and better education about healthy eating.

A good week for . . .

John Francome, the former champion jockey turned commentator for Channel 4 Racing, who has been crowned Sports Pundit of the Year at the prestigious Royal Television Society Awards in London. He beat off challenges by Match of the Day’s Alan Hansen and Olympic athlete Michael Johnson. However, the future of racing coverage on the channel is looking increasingly bleak.

But a bad week for . . .

Sheikh Mohammed, whose stud farm near Newmarket suffered a suspected arson attack last weekend. Hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused to Church Hall Farm, Woodditton when three separate fires broke out. Luckily most of the horses were out in the field at the time although one mare and foal had to be led to safety. Anyone with information should contact Parkside Police Station (tel: 0845 456 4564) or Crimestoppers (tel: 0800 555 111).

Disappointment for Dunwoody

Former champion jump jockey Richard Dunwoody has abandoned the idea of returning to race riding after x-rays showed that he could risk breaking his neck should he suffer a fall. The neck injury that forced him to retire in 1999 was successfully operated on last year, but the onset of arthritis has taken its toll. A disappointed Dunwoody said: “It’s time to more on.”

Over the water

Japan is to make more of its races open to foreign horses in an attempt to improve the reputation of its racing and breeding around the world. The Japan Racing Association has said that it intends to increase the number of Group or Listed races open to foreign runners to 111 by 2007. In 2003, only 12 races in the country were open to foreign horses.

Monty’s Pass prepares for farewell

Winner of the 2003 Grand National, Monty’s Pass, is expected to have one more race before saying his farewells to the racetrack. The 12-year-old has won eight times over fences, with his last success almost two years ago in a Cork charity flat race. The much loved chaser has been described as a “family pet” by trainer Jimmy Mangan. He was due to race in France this weekend, but that plan has been shelved. The location of his retirement race is currently under discussion.

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