Friday, February 13, 2009

Jockeys 3 & 4

In a few hours we'll be able to catch parts 3 & 4 of "Jockeys" on Animal Planet at 9PM Eastern. There has been quite a bit of feedback from folks across the TBA on whether the series is a hit or a miss. I kind of fall somewhere in between. Rumor has it that ratings-wise, the show has done pretty well for a cable show. In my opinion, tonight is the real key. Did the show hold that audience or was it a one and done? Were too many viewers (like my wife) turned off by the seemingly endless shots of horses going down on the track? Or, were viewers drawn in by the Mike/Chantal love story; by Joe Talamo's desire; by the athletic prowess displayed by 110 pound athletes piloting 1500 pound animals at 35 miles per hour? If they were, were they drawn in enough to tune in another week?

I know hard cores like me will still watch. I love the game, the animals and the human athletes. It's admittedly hard for me to be too critical of anything that gets more folks involved with racing on some level. I hope we see more strategy detailed going forward. I'd like to see a race dissected by owner, trainer and jockey after the fact so folks can see how split second decisions made on the racetrack affect the outcome of the race. As an example, last summer Fizzy Pop ran a game second in a race. He came from around the pack in the stretch at Canterbury and just had too much ground to make up to win. Between races one of our partners spoke to jock Dean Butler about the race and Dean was beating himself up for not staying on the rail because a hole opened up after he angled out. Had he stayed on the rail, Fiz could've won the race...according to Dean. In a way, I'm glad he felt badly because it shows his desire to win. On the other hand, if the hole did not open up we never would have made it up to second. I don't second guess those decisions and I trust Dean to make to the right ones. He may think he didn't in that instance, I will maintain that he did given the possible risks involved - I'll take a second over a fifth any day!

In any event, I don't know if we'll see some of this or not. I do know that tonight we'll get a glimpse at the hardest battle jocks have to fight: the battle with the scale. In our outmoded American model of weights (Europeans race slightly heavier - healthier for the riders, I am sure), jocks need to keep their weight at nearly absurd levels while trying to maintain strength and quickness of reflexes required to win a race and compete safely. In episode four the show will come back to the demands of having a relationship with a fellow rider (the Mike/Chantal story) as well as the burgeoning rivalry between Talamo and Gryder.

I'm looking forward to it. We'll see if the high number of viewers for episodes 1 & 2 are too...


G. Rarick said...

I don't know the minimum weight in America, but in France, it is 52 kilos, or 114 pounds. I doubt that is much heavier than in America. Top weight on the flat is 60 kilos, or 132 pounds. I rode a few races myself, and my biggest stress was never about the horse - it was always about making weight. But no matter what the minimum weight is, jockeys will be struggling. It's the nature of the business.

Ted Grevelis said...

Hey G! Thanks. I recall Steve Cauthen moving his tack to England a million years ago because of weight issues and he could race a little heavier over there.