During our meeting on the 11th of November the proceedings were interrupted at 11 am for the members to take part in the Remembrance Day two minutes silence.
Our guest speaker, introduced by Duncan Verity, was Dale Gibson, a retired professional jockey, who titled his talk The Life of a Jockey.
During a career spanning 23 years Dale rode 529 winners with at least one winner at each flat racing course in Britain. He had his first and also his last ride at York and was interviewed on Channel 4 TV on each occasion. He divided his talk into three sections, how he started, the day-to-day life of a jockey and his present day career as the Executive Director of Racing at the Professional Jockeys’ Association. Dale passed round three items from his equipment, a whip, a pair of plastic riding boots and a protective vest. He credits a vest with saving his life during a dangerous fall at Beverley.
The statistics of the life of a jockey brought it home to the Forum members the dedication necessary to succeed – starting the day at 6am, two hours riding out and a typical 400 miles each day driving to and from meetings.
All this for an average annual income comparable to the average professional footballer’s weekly income. A lively Question and Answer session brought up the subjects of horse doping, weight control and the differing personalities of flat and jump jockeys.