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Researchers to study bone health of jockeys

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A new study will look at the short and long-term health consequences of professional horseracing.

Trustees of the Racing Foundation have awarded a three-year research grant of £222,417 to the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis at Oxford University.

Working in collaboration with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the research team will look at the bone density and muscle mass of riders, and investigate how this is linked to fall rate, severity of injuries, the occurrence of osteoarthritis and overall impact on general health.

Dr. Julia Newton, principal investigator for the research and consultant rheumatologist at the Oxford centre, commented: “Our team is really looking forward to working with the Racing Foundation and the racing community to better understand how we can improve the short and long-term health of jockeys and stable staff.

“This grant provides us the opportunity to answer fundamental questions around risk factors for injury and poor long-term health.

“Our centre´s aim, and that of Arthritis Research UK, is to understand the relationship between sports injuries and the development of osteoarthritis — not just in elite athletes but in all people who sport recreationally all levels — and to reduce the impact of these injuries.”

Dr. Jerry Hill, chief medical advisor for the BHA, added: “As an industry we are totally committed to the health, well-being and safety of jockeys and stable staff and are continually ensuring they are as well-equipped as possible to cope with the demands of their job.

“Thanks to the Racing Foundation grant and the expertise of the research team we are now able to study body composition and bone density to see how it impacts fall and injury risk and use the findings to guide advice and future regulation.”

The findings of the research could be used to help develop injury and rehabilitation services as well as fitness and training regimes for riders, Dr. Hill explained.