The home of intelligent horse racing discussion
The home of intelligent horse racing discussion

What Does It Take to Become a Professional Jockey in the UK?

Becoming a jockey is far from easy. It takes the right size, a lot of fitness hours, and loads of training sessions, but it is not impossible! In this article, we’ll dive into what it takes to go pro.

If you love horses, then you might have fantasies about putting on silks and entering the racetracks on a powerful horse, ready to race towards the finishing line in regal fashion. But becoming a professional jockey is far from easy. Size, fitness, and skills are key, and most riders will need to complete several training courses to become licensed to compete. Motivation is therefore one of the most important factors. It takes years of hard work. 

Training is everything

Becoming a professional jockey starts with learning how to ride a horse – and it pays to do it early. As with many sports, most horse racing talents have one thing in common: They started training as children or young adults. Usually, people attend horse riding classes, take courses, and test their skills until they feel confident enough to apply for the Level 1 Diploma in Horse Race Care. For many, this is the first step towards a professional career. If you are deemed skilled enough, you get to progress to level 2, which can lead to employment as an apprentice in a stable. But for those coming into horse racing at a later stage in their lives, the training route may not be available due to their age. Instead, they must use their amateur experience as a ticket.

Embracing the horse racing community

Becoming a part of the horse racing community is essential if you are to be successful. You need to get to know the world that you are seeking to become a part of, meet the trainers and find out where you fit into it all. It can even be fun to learn more about things like betting as many people place bets on big horse races through sites like: Another way to become closer to the community is by finding work in the horse racing industry. While a stable is an obvious choice for a would-be jockey, you can also choose to work for a horse racing magazine, a betting company specializing in horse racing, or assist with training in a horse-riding school. Some successful jockeys, like Rachael Blackmore, even managed to study at Uni alongside their pursuits.


Undertaking health and fitness assessments

Before you can compete in professional horse races, you will need to pass medical and fitness checks, and your weight is important too as it’s rare for professional jockeys to weigh more than 9 stones. There are not many shortcuts and getting a professional racing license takes time and effort to achieve, which is why it’s a good idea to seek advice and chat with others about their experiences. Some start as a stable hand and work their way up, others apply for all the different stages of training, and if you are lucky enough to make it as a professional jockey it’s unlikely to make you rich. While the biggest names can take home a decent amount of money, your average jockey makes around 30K a year.