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Culture & Religion

The Dark Side of Jockeys

They starve themselves and risk their necks for $150 a race. And depression is prevalent in the jockeys’ ranks. Who would be one?

All elite sportsmen know there’s a price to be paid for the risks they take. Even so, Neil Jolly looks back on his career with some disbelief. “I was a lunatic when I was a jockey,” says Jolly, who retired in 2009 aged 35 due to injury and the punishing effects of dieting. “I stopped eating on Wednesday and I wouldn’t start eating again until Saturday night. That’s what you have to put your body through. It plays tricks with your mind.” What compelled him to keep going, he recalls, was an addiction to the rush of the race. “For a jockey, every ride could be his last.”


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