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Diabetic teenage jockey first to be granted licence

13 April 2017

Hector Barr, 16, has become the first jockey with type 1 diabetes in Britain to be granted a permit to ride without restriction by the British Horseracing Authority. 

Although Barr is not the first type 1 diabetic to be granted a pointing permit, jockeys were previously restricted to one point-to-point ride per meeting because of the difficulty of returning elevated blood sugar readings to acceptable levels between races.

But the BHA, working in conjunction with specialists and the Barr's local hospital in Colchester, has developed its own understanding of the required measures to allow the teenager to ride with a fully active permit. 

Barr's mother Emma said: "From an early age Hector was set on following his father Stephen into point-to-pointing. Stephen was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 29 and gave up any idea of continuing with racing, but modern drugs have made diabetes more easily controllable and stable. The BHA has agreed a protocol for Hector to race and, provided he sticks to the requirements, he is passed fit to ride on the day."

A number of high-profile sports personalities have type 1 diabetes, the most serious form of the condition which is typically diagnosed at a younger age. 

BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey said: "With improvements in the understanding and management of diabetes it is increasingly recognised that it is possible for diabetic athletes to compete at a high level.

"The BHA Medical Department has been working closely with Dr Ian Gallen, a diabetologist with expertise in athletes with diabetes, to support a recently diagnosed type 1 diabetic in gaining his point-to-point permit and being able to ride without restrictions on that permit."

Mounsey added: "The programme is under careful, regular review and should provide a template for a number of future riders and jockeys to compete safely and successfully with diabetes."

Three trailblazers

Gary Mabbutt (Tottenham and England footballer)

Mabbutt was diagnosed at the age of 17 and told by three different specialists that his dream of a professional career was at an end. A fourth doctor took a more "wait-and-see" attitude to Mabbutt's diabetes and the result was more than 750 league games and 16 England caps before his retirement in 1987. 

As the playmaker for the Denver Broncos, Cutler had completed two years in the NFL when diagnosed in May 2008 and told he would require daily insulin shots. That proved no barrier to his progress –Cutler has amassed more than 32,000 passing yards and 208 career touchdowns.  

Gary Hall jnr (Olympic swimming champion)

Hall won four medals at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 but was told his dream of competing in Sydney in 2000 could be over when diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1999. Hall overcame that setback to win six more medals – three of them gold – across the Sydney and Athens Games.

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