Four-time champion says Sunday night racing is a “step too far”

Richard Johnson Citrus Zest, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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Four-time champion jockey Richard Johnson has said that Sunday night racing is a “step too far” after the BHA debuted its newest initiative last weekend at Wolverhampton.

The Wolverhampton fixture was one of six between now and the Cheltenham Festival that will be raced on a Sunday night, the first time in racing’s history that races have started and finished so late on the final day of the weekend. 

Speaking to The Winners Enclosure, Johnson said that Sunday racing will be an overload for jockeys and stable staff and disrupt any work/life balance they previously had. 

“Sunday night is too far and too much and we don’t need it,” Johnson said. “If we are not careful we will have racing 24/7. And where do you stop?

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“When Sunday racing was first started they said it would be only once a month. Now it is every Sunday all year round.

“People will say to jockeys that if they don’t want to ride on a Sunday, then don’t ride. That’s not how they operate. They are self-employed and want to keep their trainers happy. It is hard for a lot of jockeys who are trying to make a living. It is very hard to say ‘No’ to a ride.

“Stable staff work really hard every day of the year and to be asked to go racing on a Sunday evening is a step too far. Even the mornings are a problem. I feel it is overload. We have an awful lot of racing in this country and I don’t feel we need more racing for the sake of it.

“I have always wondered why we need racing seven days a week. It is too much. I always felt that in the summer you could easily have jump racing on a Monday and no Flat racing and in the winter have all weather racing on a Monday and no jumping to try and give everyone a break. It is not just the jockeys and stable staff who have to be there.

“Everybody needs a work life balance especially when you are young. And if it is your horse that you’re looking after you’ll want to take it racing. But at the same time in the middle of winter when it is either soaking wet or freezing cold everyone needs a day off at least once a fortnight just to do something a little bit different.”

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Feature image: Richard Johnson. Credit Citrus Zest, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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