Native riders of Britain: the flat jockey

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  • Welcome to Horse & Hound’s tongue-in-cheek guide to the various “native breeds” of riders in Britain.

    HEIGHT: The only native breed that can be recognised for what he does at 500 paces in thick fog. Tailors adore them, churning out bespoke suits at manly prices but in pre-pubescent sizes.

    CONFORMATION: Never consuming more than 50 calories a day, the flat jockey is generously described as “lightweight”. Vertically-challenged though they may be, they are extremely fit, and stride about like coiled springs.

    MARKINGS: The flat jockey (a generic term, not a visual description) exists in only two forms. The Young Jockey: until the age of 25, he spends his time trying to charm aged owners and refusing alcoholic drinks, when, suddenly, he becomes. . . The Old Jockey: years of constant dieting and too much time at altitude in his private plane have left him with the skin of someone else. Someone, unfortunately, of about 83.

    TEMPERAMENT: Testy. Their unpredictable tempers, a legacy no doubt of 20 or 30 years of dieting, sweating and shopping for clothes in Mothercare. In post-race interviews they tend to sound monosyllabic or like Zippy on helium.

    HABITAT: A migrant bunch. Anybody’s for a fat retainer and a couple of camels, they flit from continent to continent like confused geese, clocking up more air miles than Richard Branson. A large proportion arrive on the ferry from the Emerald Isle one day and never look back. They seem to breed them small in Ireland, with a fierce determination to be last in the bar and first past the post.

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