LJMU’s School of Sport and Exercise Science plays a vital role in preparing jockeys for what is the most famous horse race in the world – the Randox Grand National.
The festival returns this week to our doorstep in Aintree. For the first time in three years there will be full capacity crowds, so every furlong and every fence of the course will be loud and brimming with excitement.
Dr George Wilson, Exercise Physiologist and Sport Nutritionist, has over the past decade led on research projects to better improve the health and wellbeing of jockeys, who are unique athletes in that they have a daily requirement to make weight.
The studies at LJMU have resulted in tailored diet practices being implemented across the sport, and more recently weight increases brought in by the racing authorities have been influenced by the team’s research. All with the aim of promoting better practices that improve both physical and mental health for jockeys not just in the UK, but across the world.
Ahead of the Grand National, Dr Wilson has been working with many jockeys to ensure they are in the best shape possible and race-ready for the big day, utilising many of the state-of-the-art facilities available at LJMU.
“It becomes a busy time for me ahead of Grand National weekend, because a number of the jockeys will come and see me. Obviously, they want to make weight safely, they want to be in the best condition they can, so I will be advising them on their pre-race nutrition and making sure that they are hydrated.”
Dr Wilson’s expertise ensures that the jockeys’ strength is not compromised and that their reaction time is razor sharp. Commenting on how they will be feeling head of the main race on Saturday 9 April, Dr Wilson said: “For the jockeys I suppose it’s like every other day, but it’s got that added bonus of the big crowd and the TV with millions around the world watching. Also, your name will go down in history if you’re the jockey that wins the Grand National.”
Find out more about how LJMU supports professional athletes in a range of sports, and how you could study here to become the next Dr Wilson – visit the School of Sport and Exercise Science webpages.
-Dr Wilson’s research work is funded by The Racing Foundation.