FORMER flat jockey Claire Bryan from Cradley, near Malvern, has really got the whip hand when it comes to business.
Her alternative leatherwear online company Kinky Monkey has been highly commended in a career development award by the Jockeys Employment and Training Scheme.
The JETS awards reward jockeys for their initiative, effort and forethought in developing a career after race riding.
Miss Bryan reached the shortlist for The Griffins Richard Davis Achievement Award, worth £3,000, which goes to the jockey (or former jockey) judged to have achieved the most in developing a second career over the past year.
Now 33, Miss Bryan rode more than 30 winners as an amateur, then apprentice, flat jockey between 1997 and 2003 and eventually, in the face of fewer opportunities, retired from race riding.
She moved on to take saddler, book keeping and accountancy qualifications, with the help of JETS training grants and advice, and now runs her business.
She said: “I had initially worked on making dog collars and lead reins and making saddler repairs but then a friend asked me to make a pair of wrist cuffs and things went from there.
This year, at Kinky Monkey, we’ve been focusing on conquering the trade market and have exhibited, with great success, at the ETO adult industry trade show at the NEC and its counterpart in Europe, Venus-Berlin.”
Early retirement is inevitable for jockeys and the injury risk is high: National Hunt jockeys are 30 on average when their careers end, and flat jockeys are not far behind at 33.
Statistics show that, on average, jump jockeys experience a fall every 16 rides and, with horses travelling at speeds of more than 30mph, flat falls can be equally serious.
This was the 17th year of The Griffins Richard Davis Awards, the annual career development honours established by The Jockeys Employment and Training Scheme in memory of the late Richard Davis, who had started planning for his future before his fatal race fall in 1996.