Jockey Hollie Doyle takes on Arsenal star Leah Williamson: Who wins?
All photos on this page are courtesy of: Great British Racing

Jockey Hollie Doyle takes on Arsenal star Leah Williamson: Who wins?

Silk Series jockey, Hollie Doyle has gone head to head with Arsenal footballer, Leah Williamson, in a tightly-contested fitness battle to see who would come out on top in Great British Racing’s ‘Jockey vs Footballer’ challenge.

Despite both being only 21 years old, Leah and Hollie have already experienced huge success in their respective sports with Hollie recording 114 race wins in her career to date, and Leah a two-time Women’s FA Cup winner with Arsenal, while she has also been called up by England ahead of their friendly against Russia on Friday.

Both athletes showcased their remarkable athletic ability during the challenge, held at Arsenal FC’s training centre, and provided some unexpected results in the four tests they undertook which included a 10m sprint; a squat hold; a plank; and a broad jump.

Hollie Doyle, a Silk Series ambassador – a race series specifically for female jockeys, said: “It was a great challenge! Very tough, but really fun. Leah is hugely talented, but I hope I’ve proven that jockeys are professional athletes and equally as fit as other sports people.”

Leah Williamson said: “Hollie is an incredibly tough competitor and demonstrated the high fitness levels and talent jockeys have. It was a really enjoyable experience and proved to me just how dedicated we need to be with our fitness in order to reach the top of our respective sports.”

With Leah covering an average of 10km every football match and Hollie rarely doing any sprint training, the Arsenal player was expected to win the 10m sprint in the opening round. However, Hollie showed incredible pace off the mark to cause an upset, crossing the 10m line in 2.14 seconds, ahead of Leah’s time of 2.23 seconds.

Turning the tables on Hollie, Leah caused an upset of her own and stormed to victory in the plank test – an exercise frequently practised by jockeys to build the core muscle strength necessary to control a thoroughbred racehorse travelling at speeds of 40mph.

With two surprising results on either side, watch the full video to find out how the rest of the Jockey vs Footballer challenge unfolded HERE

The challenge was led by Arsenal Ladies’ Strength and Conditioning Coach, Cairbre Ó’Caireallain, who said: “Both women are a credit to their sports. I am lucky enough to see how hard Leah works every day, but it was really refreshing to see Hollie put Leah through her paces. Hollie is equally strong in terms of fitness levels and proved that jockeys are just as fit as footballers. Well done to both for putting on a great challenge.”

Yariv Kam, fitness coach at the British Racing School, commented on the challenge: “In beating Leah in the sprint, Hollie has shown she’s got some serious explosive ability and power and it shows just how fit she is. Jockeys do need this sort of fitness in the finish for the last furlong for the sprint, however you’d still expect the professional footballer to be better in an explosive test. Then again it is a bit surprising that Hollie lost an isometric exercise in the plank, so fair play to both athletes!

“On balance Hollie has done really well, she’s shown jockeys have got nothing to be ashamed of compared to other professional athletes. She has nearly beaten a professional footballer in four tough fitness contests so I’m pleasantly surprised, well done Hollie!”

Last year two-time Grand National winning jockey, Leighton Aspell drew 2-2 against the all-time leading record Aviva Premiership try scorer, Tom Varndell in a jockey vs rugby player challenge.

The Tests:

Each athlete was put through four tests designed to test their fitness levels. The tests were as follows:


Jockey Hollie Doyle takes on Arsenal star Leah Williamson: Who wins?

Short distance accelerations are very common in a large variety of sports. The exercise involved both athletes running from a standing start to maximum speed within 10m.


Hollie Doyle Leah Williamson
2.14 secs 2.23 secs



Jockey Hollie Doyle takes on Arsenal star Leah Williamson: Who wins?

A core isometric test where both athletes held the squat position on two air stability wobble balance cushions.


Hollie Doyle Leah Williamson
3 mins 32 secs 2 mins 22 secs


Jockey Hollie Doyle takes on Arsenal star Leah Williamson: Who wins?

The plank test, another isometric assessment, is a simple fitness test of core muscle strength. The plank test measures the control and endurance of the back/core stabilizing muscles. A bit like the press up position, the upper body is supported off the ground by the elbows and forearms, with legs straight and the weight taken by the toes. The hip is lifted off the floor creating a straight line from head to toe.


Hollie Doyle Leah Williamson
2 mins 28 secs 2 mins 39 secs


Broad Jump:

Jockey Hollie Doyle takes on Arsenal star Leah Williamson: Who wins?
A long jump from a standing start to measure the elastic leg strength and the explosive power of both athletes.


Hollie Doyle Leah Williamson
2m 2.10m

FULL-TIME SCORE: Hollie Doyle 2 – 2 Leah Williamson

Exercise: Hollie Doyle: Leah Williamson
10m Sprint 2.14 secs 2.23 secs
Squat Hold 3 mins 32 secs 2 mins 22 secs
The Plank 2 mins 28 secs 2 mins 39 secs
Broad Jump 2m 2.1m



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