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Champion Jockey Reveals 'Torturous' Method He Used To Lose Weight For Races

Champion Jockey Reveals 'Torturous' Method He Used To Lose Weight For Races
By PJ Browne Updated

The battle to make weight is an ongoing one in a jockey's career. The casual horse racing fan probably does not have a full appreciation for the torture riders put themselves through on a daily basis.

Wasting is the term used by jockeys for how they get to the required weight. In the mid-90s, that was 8st 6lb.

Writing in his autobiography 'Form', six-time champion Kieren Fallon tells of a method he used early in his career. Fallon was not a fan of the sauna - he could not breathe in the small steam-filled room - so, he improvised.

So when I was riding for Jimmy FitzGerald, I had these torturous methods of getting the weight off I had five or six different sets of long johns and T-shirts and I would put those on and then pull on a plastic sweat suit over them. Then I'd put a tracksuit over all that and go for a run.

Still wearing all my layers, I'd get in the car and head off to the races at Thirsk or Beverley or another of the northern circuits. If it was a hot day, I'd leave the windows up and let myself bake in the car with the sun's rays beating through the glass. If it wasn't a hot day, I'd switch the heaters up to full blast, turn the music on loud and just try and get through the journey without thinking about it too much. I might allow myself a bit of Lucozade with some ice in it and sip away at that a little bit. And if I wanted to treat myself, I'd wind the windows down for a couple of minutes when I was driving across the moors.

The drive to Ayr in Scotland from his base in northern England was a particularly arduous one for Fallon. On one particular occasion, he had to lose three or four pounds on the way to the course. Despite it being a hot day, Fallon turned the heater in the car to the max.

"I got to the end of the A74 on the drive up there and I felt like I was going to pass out at the wheel," he writes. "I had been in the car for a couple of hours already by then and I had sweated out a lot of fluid."

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Looking out his car window, Fallon saw a lake. Such was his state delirium, he thought he might have been hallucinating. It turned out to be real. He then had to resist the urge to jump from the heat of the car into the lake.

Fallon was driven to this extreme by a desire to ride a fancied horse in Ayr.

I wanted to ride it badly enough that I was willing to risk passing out behind the wheel. I had another forty-five minutes to go and it was a bad road for the last part of the journey but I gritted my teeth and drove on.

There were a couple of more times on that journey when I thought I might faint but I made it. I turned the shower on cold in the weighing room and just sat there for about ten minutes. Then I had a drop of tea with a bit of sugar and that was it.

Later in his career, Fallon would turn to what jockeys call 'flipping' - eating large amounts of food and then vomiting it up - to keep his weight down.

Kieren Fallon will be signing copies of his book in Eason's on O'Connell St. from 12:30pm on Saturday, November 4th.

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Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

See Also: Kevin Kilbane Labels Cesc Fabregas A "Total Arse", Tells Story To Prove It

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