The Jockeys’ weighing room is, without a doubt, one of the racecourse’s most important areas. This room is where the jockeys verify that they carry the appropriate weight before entering the racetrack. For most jockeys, this room is a safe and welcoming environment since they get to interact with other riders about the challenges of their dangerous and taxing profession. However, the atmosphere in the weighing room can also be less than ideal for various reasons. Below are some insider secrets into what the jockey weighing room is like before a race.
- Overall Good Environment In Both Changing Rooms
Male and female riders have separate changing areas in the weighing room, and the atmosphere is generally good in both areas. Speaking to Betway Insider, retired Irish jockey Katie Walsh reveals that the women’s changing room atmosphere is great, but very few ladies are there. On the other hand, there are more men in the males’ changing room, so the atmosphere there is slightly more fun due to higher numbers. She also added that male and female jockeys are generally supportive despite being fierce competitors, perhaps because they spend a lot of time around.
- Female Jockeys Might Be A Bit Uncomfortable
Weighing rooms were designed when all jockeys were men, so their layouts favour male jockeys over their female counterparts. Although male and female jockeys have separate changing rooms, they mostly employ the same valets to inspect their equipment and wash their racing kits. These valets are mostly males, so they naturally gravitate towards the men’s changing room. Female jockeys need to enter the male changing areas to access valets. There are some positives to this for female jockeys. It is said that races start in the weighing room since this is where jockeys discuss several tactical points that might help with mental preparation.
However, it can be intimidating for female jockeys to enter the male changing areas, especially if they are at the start of their careers. Young male jockeys also find it quite uncomfortable to enter the weighing room. Therefore, it is not surprising that the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announced plans to modernise and improve weighing rooms across the UK after strong criticism from former jockey Lizzie Kelly. Under the BHA’s new plans, weighing and changing room areas will be redesigned to include private showers and changing facilities for jockeys, especially for the under 18s. Additionally, there will be new communal working spaces for valets, which the male and female changing rooms can easily access.
Weighing rooms have male and female riders of different ages, experiences, and successes. As such, there is constant potential for rivalries, jealousy and grudges, making the weighing room an ideal hunting ground for bullies. Indeed, Robbie Dune‘s constant bullying and harassment of female rider Bryony Frost for over seven months in the weighing room, on the racecourse, and online is a prime example. In December, Dunne was banned for a year and a half and suspended for 3 months. Therefore, it is clear that the Professional Jockeys’ Association and the BHA remain committed to drastically improving the weighing room culture.