Horse Racing: P J McDonald says UK racing is pulling together to help struggling jockeys

The top jock and president of the PJA was speaking on Paddy Power's From The Horse’s Mouth podcast.

PJ McDonald jockey & PJA


How jockeys in the UK are being financially supported

Yesterday there was a final paper sent in – we’ve been trying to draw something up ever since this started about three weeks’ ago now, but it’s so hard to kind of predict what certain people are earning.
What should one person be entitled to, what the other person should be? It took a while for Paul and Dale and the team to get their heads around what they could do but they finally got a paper sent in yesterday.

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So hopefully in the next coming weeks we should know what we’re going to get financially. At the minute the IJF and the PJA have put out plenty of information to let people know that if they are struggling or on hard times the support is there for them, and not to let themselves get into any financial trouble because there’s no need for it.

Everybody is pulling together and there is help out there, to get it if you are struggling – that’s a massive help to a lot of people.

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It’s tough but there are more important things right now

It’s weird – obviously as jockeys we’re on the go 24/7 and for everything to be shut down it takes a bit of getting your head around. At the same time, looking at the bigger picture, there’s a lot more important things going on in the world so we’ve just got to suck it up and just be ready to go when we can.

There’s a good few of us that have been riding out at Mark Johnston’s quite a bit – I’ve stopped riding out myself in the last 10 days because my eldest daughter’s got asthma. A lot of the local lads from around here from where I live were in Mark’s just riding out trying to keep themselves busy for as long as they can.


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I’m managing my weight and diet as best I can – I’m not going to lie, it’s tough. I try and keep myself in a bit of a routine, try and get out for a walk first thing in the morning and then maybe do a little 25/30 minutes something high intensity before dinner every evening.

As you know yourself, when you’ve got nothing to aim at, it’s so hard to get motivated. You go out and after 10 minutes you’re wanting to come back in. It’s hard to push yourself.”

I need a pair of blinkers, that’s what I need.

Or someone behind me with a longtom! That’s the hardest thing trying to keep yourself motivated. You’ve just got to do what you can do and I think once we get a date, that’ll be easier – the hardest part is not knowing.


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If you knew it was going to be a month, or six weeks, at least you’d know you’ve got a target to get ready for and aim for. But at the minute everything is up in the air and we haven’t got a clue what’s going on.

In terms of keeping my weight down, when I let myself go now on the flat, I’ll actually get a lot heavier than I ever did when I was jumping. Because I was never sweating when I was jumping or I never had to be restricted to what I was eating.

But now I spend maybe seven or eight months of the year eating very little, basically restricted. So when I do let it go for maybe three or four weeks in the winter, I’d be like a little barrel! If I was a horse, you couldn’t let me down for too long as you’d never get me fit again!

Once I got into a routine and knew what I was doing, it was easy then to kind of get it. And when you’re doing well, busy and that, it is easy to keep on top of it.

Verbal-Dexterity (I)

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Why I went back to being a flat jockey

I rode on the Flat in Ireland for three years. I rode a winner each year and each time I rode a winner, I thought I’ll get going now, I’ll get going now.

But, I never really took off and a friend of mine over there, Michael Cleary, he was good friends with Ferdy at the time and he said: “Why don’t you just go to England and give Jumping a try?”.

So, I learnt to ride in Jump yards, with Padge Berry down in point-to-point yards, that’s what I was brought up around. I had a very big interest in it and luckily enough me and Ferdy clicked and he gave me the chance that I needed.

He was kind of the right person for me to meet at that time. As soon as I met him I had a respect for the man – it was something I’d probably never felt for anyone I’d worked for before.

It was just the right time for me and thank God I got a second go at it and things took off and as I was able to get my head down and make a career out of it, please God, you know.

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What do you think?