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Awards for Jockeys turned Farriers

Two farriers -  Ben Hitchcott from Groombridge, Kent and Ricky Lake from Prees in Shropshire – have been shortlisted for a prestigious career development award made by the Jockeys Employment & Training Scheme (JETS) and designed to reward jockeys for their initiative, effort and forethought in developing a career after race riding.

The Griffins Richard Davis Achievement Award, worth £3,000  goes to the  jockey (or former jockey) judged to have achieved the most in developing a second career over the past year.

Ben Hitchcott, 32, was a professional jump jockey (between 2000-6) and rode 100 winners under rules as well as having 50 winners previously as an amateur.  He is now working as a farrier in the Kent, Sussex and Surrey area, after passing his exams with flying colours at every stage and his portfolio of case studies was judged to be the best in his year.  Although his clients cut across all disciplines, he has a particular interest in shoeing thoroughbreds and his clients now include David Phelan’s pre-training yard in.  

Ricky Lake, also 32, rode as an Apprentice Jockey (1997-2003) and rode 17 winners before a severe knee injury forced his retirement from race riding.  He is now in his final year of farrier training.

Both Ben and Ricky benefitted from JETS’ career coaching and training grants to help them make the career switch.

Early retirement is inevitable for jockeys and the injury risk is high: National Hunt jockeys are 30 on average when their careers end, and flat jockeys are not far behind at 33.  Statistics also show that, on average, jump jockeys experience a fall every 16 rides and, with horses travelling at speeds of more than 30mph, flat falls can be equally serious.

Between them, the jockeys shortlisted for the 2012 Griffins Richard Davis Awards, have opted to take up a wide variety of second career options from equine dentistry and farriery to electrical contracting, gas engineering and alternative leather wear.

“What is very impressive is that JETS is helping individuals to both find alternative careers in racing and the equestrian trades,  where opportunities exist, but at the same time open their eyes to a huge range of other options which can help secure their futures once their race riding careers are over,” commented Bob Fidler from sponsors, Berkshire-based Accountants Griffins, and one of the judges.

This will be the 17th year of The Griffins Richard Davis Awards - the annual career development honours established by The Jockeys Employment & Training Scheme in memory of the late Richard Davis who had started planning for his future before his fatal race fall in 1996.  The 2012 winners will be announced on Sunday 18 November, when they will be presented with their awards in an official paddock presentation at 1240, before racing.