Rory, Kevin and Chris sign in

Racegoers are about to become more friendly with most of the jockeys riding at racecourses in Ireland as changes to racecards are introduced.

Until now jockeys have just had the initials of their first names printed on the racecard. Now, following a review of a trial at the Punchestown Festival in April, most jockeys will have their first name printed in full. All 164 jockeys registered in Ireland were asked to sign up to the new approach, and 129 of them have agreed to do so.

The meeting at Gowran Park this evening will be the first to apply the procedure since the decision was made to make it permanent. Adrian McGarry, from Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), is pleased about the switch. He said, “It’s something that we’ve been looking at doing for some time and we contacted all the jockeys to give them the option of changing to their first names. I would imagine even more jockeys will change to their first names in due course. We’ve been happy with the uptake and I thing it’s great for some of the not so well known jockeys as it will help to increase their profile.”

Yet to sign up for full naming are – can I say this? – Ruby Walsh and Joseph O’Brien, so they will appear on racecards as R and JP respectively.

The Racing Post has followed suit in the way it shows jockey names, so whilst last Friday KJ Manning, C Hayes and RP Cleary were plying their trade at the Curragh, today it’s Kevin, Chris and Rory who are in action.

The change brings HRI into line with the BHA in England, which made a similar move in March 2010. In an idle moment I had sometimes wondered why the first names of most jockeys were printed in full here, and a few, AP McCoy, for example, were not. Like Walsh and O’Brien, he doesn’t need any help to raise his profile.

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