AskDefine | Define jockey

Dictionary Definition



1 someone employed to ride horses in horse races
2 an operator of some vehicle or machine or apparatus; "he's a truck jockey"; "a computer jockey"; "a disc jockey"


1 defeat someone in an expectation through trickery or deceit [syn: cheat, chouse, shaft, screw, chicane]
2 compete (for an advantage or a position)
3 ride a race-horse as a professional jockey

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a UK /ˈdʒɒki/, /"dZQki/
  • Rhymes with: -ɒki


  1. One who rides racehorses competitively
  2. An operator of some machinery or apparatus

Derived terms


one who rides racehorses competitively
  • German: Jockey
  • Japanese: 騎手
  • Polish: dżokej


  1. to ride (a horse) in a race
  2. to maneuver (something) by skill for one's advantage
  3. to cheat or trick

Extensive Definition

This article is about the sports occupation. For other meanings, see Jockey (disambiguation).
In sport, a jockey is one who rides horses in horse racing or steeplechase racing, primarily as a profession.

Horse racing

Jockeys are normally self employed, nominated by horse trainers to ride their horses in races, for a fee (which is paid regardless of the prize money the horse earns for a race) and a cut of the purse winnings. In Australia, employment of apprentice jockeys is in terms of indenture to a master (a trainer); and there is a clear employee/employer relationship. When an apprentice jockey finishes his apprenticeship and becomes a "fully fledged jockey", the nature of their employment and insurance requirements change because they are regarded as "freelance", like contractors. Jockeys often cease their riding careers to take up other employment in racing, usually as trainers. In this way the appreniceship system serves to induct young people into racing employment.
Jockeys usually start out when they are young, riding work in the morning for trainers, and entering the riding profession as an apprentice jockey. An apprentice jockey is known as a "bug boy" because the asterisk that follows the name in the program looks like a bug. All jockeys must be licensed and usually are not able to have an interest in a bet on a race. An apprentice jockey has a master, who is a horse trainer, and also is allowed to "claim" weight off the horse's back (if a horse were to carry 58 kg, and the apprentice was able to claim 3 kg, the horse would only have to carry 55 kg on its back). After a while, the jockey becomes a senior jockey and would usually develop relationships with trainers and individual horses. Sometimes senior jockeys are paid a retainer by an owner which gives the owner the right to insist the jockey rides their horses in races.
Racing modelled on the English Jockey Club spread throughout the world with colonial expansion, and in one view is a vehicle of hegemony. The emergence of women jockeys in the 1970s followed a wider cultural trend in female interest in sports. The emergence did raise argument about the suitability of women in the demanding role of jockeys, and whilst there are a number of high-level female jockeys, the profession is still dominated by men as illustrated in the list below:
Various awards are given annually by organizations affiliated with the sport of thoroughbred racing in countries throughout the world. They include:

Racing silks

The silks worn by jockeys in races are the registered "colours" of the owner who employs them. The practice of horsemen wearing colours probably stems from medieval times when jousts were held between knights. But the origins of racing colours of multifarious patterns that are seen today may have been influenced by racing held in Italian city communities since medieval times. Such traditional events are still held on town streets and are remarkable for furious riding and the colourful spectacle they offer.
The symbolism of racing colours in a modern sense shows metaphoric overlap with other practices. Getting "silks" is a rite of passage when a jockey is first able to don silken pants and colours in their first race ride, and it has a parallel in how lawyers are spoken of as "taking silk". At one time silks were invariably made of silk, though now synthetics are sometimes used instead. Nevertheless, the silks and their colours are important symbols evoking emotions of loyalty and festivity.

Robot jockeys

To replace child jockeys whose use had been deplored by human rights organizations, a camel race in Doha, Qatar for the first time featured robots at the reins. On July 13, 2005, workers fixed robotic jockeys on the backs of seven camels and raced the machine-mounted animals around a track. Operators controlled the jockeys remotely, signaling them to pull their reins and prod the camels with whips

Risk factors

Horse jockeying is a sport where permanent, debilitating, and even life-threatening injuries occur. Chief among them include concussion, bone fracture, arthritis, trampling, and paralysis. Jockey insurance premiums remain among the highest of all professional sports. Eating disorders (such as anorexia) are also very common among jockeys, as the athletes face extreme pressure to maintain unusually low (and specific) weights for men, sometimes within a five pound (2.3 kg) margin. The bestselling historical novel Seabiscuit: An American Legend chronicled the eating disorders of jockeys living in the first half of the Twentieth Century. As in the cases of champion jockey Kieren Fallon and Robert Winston, the pressure to stay light has been blamed in part for driving the men to alcoholism.


The word is by origin a diminutive of "jock", the Northern or Scots colloquial equivalent of the first name "John," which is also used generically for "boy, or fellow" (compare "Jack," "Dick"), at least since 1529.
A familiar instance of the use of the word as a name is in "Jockey of Norfolkia" in Shakespeare's Richard III. v. 3, 304.
In the 16th and 17th centuries the word was applied to horse-dealers, postilions, itinerant minstrels and vagabonds, and thus frequently bore the meaning of a cunning rickster, a "sharp", whence the verb to jockey, "to outwit", or "to do" a person out of something.
The current equestrian usage is found in John Evelyn's Diary, 1670, when it was clearly well known. George Sorrow's attempt to derive the word from the gypsy chukni, a heavy whip used by horse-dealing Gypsies, has no foundation.
More recently, a colloquialism in the north west of England has emerged, offering a variation in terms of usage and meaning in the term "Jockey". The new slang implies that a person "Jockeys" something in order to control or maneuver an item or challenge.

Physical Description of the Jockey

Jockeys have a reputation for being very short, but there are no height limits, only weight limits. A rider can be of any height if they can still make weight, but it is still generally limited to fairly short individuals because of the limits on a persons body. Jockeys typically range from 5' to 5'5" in height.

External links

See also


jockey in German: Jockey
jockey in Italian: Fantino
jockey in Dutch: Jockey
jockey in Japanese: 騎手
jockey in Polish: Dżokej
jockey in Portuguese: Jóquei
jockey in Russian: Жокей
jockey in Simple English: Jockey
jockey in Finnish: Jockey
jockey in Swedish: Jockey
jockey in Chinese: 騎師

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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