The minimum weight to be carried by jockeys on the Flat is to rise by 2lb to 8st as of January 1 next year, the British Horseracing Authority has announced.
Developed in consultation with the Professional Jockeys Association, the amendment to the rules is one of a number of changes aimed at assisting jockeys' welfare. The minimum weight was last raised in 2002, from 7st 10lb to 7st 12lb.
Among other moves, additional monitoring is to be introduced to aid jockeys' welfare, with bone density scans being introduced as a licensing requirement for all apprentice and conditional jockeys
Dr Michael Turner, chief medical advisor to the BHA, said: "The initiatives being implemented in 2013 represent a significant forward step for the welfare of British jockeys. The rise in the minimum weight in Flat racing was an obvious step to take in view of the fact that the average weight of the British population is rising at a rate of 1lb every three years.
"Just as significant though are the wider initiatives being implemented with a view to assisting particularly young jockeys maintain and ride at a weight which is suitable for their wellbeing. It was also pleasing that Racing was unanimous in its support of the proposals.
"British Racing is fortunate in the level of care and support our riders receive from both the BHA and the PJA, in the form of nutritional and health guidance. Fitness levels among British riders has improved significantly in the last two decades."
Paul Struthers, chief executive of the PJA, said in a statement: "These are really positive steps and are the result of a collaborative effort by the BHA's chief medical officer Dr Michael Turner and the PJA, particularly Dale Gibson, over a number of years.
"It was always important that the holistic approach British Racing has taken in this issue continued, as opposed to simply raising the minimum weight. The monitoring, bone density scanning, weight rise and race planning changes do just that and will bring benefits to all jockeys."
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