Horse Racing Jockeys

Through the years, punters have recognised the importance of a jockey’s role in winning a horse race. Even before they become qualified to become an efficient jockey, these individuals have to possess specific qualities. Moreover, these jockeys go through bouts of mental and physical challenges. They have to prepare themselves while surviving on limited food and water. Due to the difficult process a jockey must endure, only a few make it to the top. Let’s take a look at some of the jockeys who have been notable in the past and the names currently leading in the race.

Top 5 Jockeys of all Time

1) Laffit Pincay Jr.

With 9,530 victories in his career, Laffit Pincay Jr. was considered as one of the leading US jockeys of all time. He had major racing wins in the San Bernardino Handicap, Santa Anita Derby, Los Angeles Handicap and Santa Barbara Handicap, among others. Hailing from Panama, Pincay earned a whopping $237 million throughout his career.

2) Bill Shoemaker

Bill Shoemaker was an American jockey who was among the top jockeys with the most victories in horse racing. Throughout his career, he had 8,833 wins with major racing wins in the Arlington Handicap, Bing Crosby Handicap, Blue Grass Stakes and the Charleton Burke Handicap, among others.

3) Pat Day

With 8,803 career wins, Pat Day became an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey for four times. In 1991, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. His major racing wins include the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Appalachian Stakes, Apple Blossom Handicap and Arkansas Derby, among many others. Day is also considered as one of the richest jockeys of all time with his $298 million career earnings.

4) Lester Piggot

Considered as one of horse racing’s greatest icon, Lester Piggott won 4,493 British flat races along with 20 hurdles. He won 30 English Classics along with nine Derbys.

5) Jerry Bailey

Jerry Bailey makes the list of the world’s all-time greatest jockeys with 5,983 victories under his belt. His major wins included the Kentucky Derby, New York Handicap Triple, Jaipur Stakes and Preakness Stakes, among others.

Top 5 Jockeys in the UK

1) Luke Morris

Luke Morris won his first race in 2010 when he claimed his first group race victory on Golt Edge Girl in the Ballyogan Stakes. As of this writing, his biggest victory was in the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp. He holds an average 12% strike rate. In 2015, he became the number one jockey to have the most wins (189 wins from over 1,500 rides) within a calendar year.

2) Joe Fanning

Joe Fanning’s notable victories include the 2007 King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, Darasim in the 2004 Goodwood Cup, Heavy Metal in the 2012 Richmond Stakes and Fulbright in the 2012 Challenge Stakes. He holds a 15% average win percentage.

3) Silvestre de Sousa

Currently racing in Britain, Silvestre de Sousa has won major races in other countries, including the Premio Roma in Italy as well as the Dubai Turf and the Dubai World Cup. In the UK, he already won in the International Stakes, Champion Stakes and the Lockinge Stakes. He holds an 18% average strike rate.

4) James Doyle

Son of former trainer Jacqueline Doyle, James Doyle made a name for himself by winning major horse races, including the Dubai Duty Free Stakes, the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, the Eclipse Stakes and the Irish 2,000 Guineas. Doyle has an 18% average strike rate.

5) Ryan Moore

Ryan Moore is an English flat racing jockey who became a Champion Jockey in 2006, 2008 and 2009. With an average 21% strike percentage rate, he has won major races including the 2,000 Guineas, 1,000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, Epson Oaks and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

Top 5 Jockeys in the US

1) Javier Castellano

Javier Castellano has over 4,000 wins and still counting. Best known for competing in American Thoroughbred racing, Castellano has won a number of major races, including the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Dubai Golden Shaheen, Preakness Stakes and Kentucky Oaks, among others. For three consecutive years (2013 to 2015), Castellano received the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Jockey.

2) Mike Smith

Considered as one of the leading jockeys in the US, Mike Smith is recognised as the rider who has won the most Breeders’ Cup races. Aside from that, he also won the Preakness Stakes, Kentucky Derby, Irish 2,000 Guineas and the Queen’s Plate, among many others.

3) Gary Stevens

While most people nowadays recognise Gary Stevens as a credible racing analyst, he started his career as a successful jockey. Stevens has 5,000 wins from the US and international races. He won the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes thrice, the Breeders’ Cup races ten times and the Santa Anita Derby nine times.

4) John Velazquez

With $307 million in career earnings, John Velazquez is considered as one of the richest jockeys in the world. His major wins include the Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes, Dubai World Cup, Queen Marky Stakes and Woodbine Mile, among many others.

5) Joel Rosario

Joel Rosario joined the ranks of Bill Shoemaker and Laffit Pincay, Jr. when on a single card, he won six races. Rosario’s major racing wins include the Breeders’ Cup, Kentucky Derby and the Dubai World Cup, among many others.

Top 5 Jockeys in Australia

1) Glen Boss

Glen Boss is considered as one of the most decorated jockeys in Australia. He is best remembered for being the jockey who rode Makybe Diva to three straight victories in the Melbourne Cup. In 2015, Glen Boss was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

2) Damien Oliver

One of the most recognisable names in Australian racing today, Damien Oliver has won almost every major horse race in Australia. He has won the Melbourne Cup three times, the Claufield Cup four times and the Cox plate once.

3) James McDonald

Originally from New Zealand, James McDonald quickly established his name in the Australian horse race industry. He was able to do so by winning the 2014 Sydney’s jockey championship. During the same period, he rode winners that netted over AUD$13 million (£7.5 million).

4) Blake Shinn

Blake Shinn may have been off the racing radar for a year, but he was able to make a booming comeback by becoming a consistent winning rider. After his comeback, he has gone to win the Doomben Cup twice.

5) Tommy Berry

Tommy Berry started from the bottom by working as a track labourer for Gai Waterhouse. When he decided to start a jockey career, he was successful enough to secure wins in the Golden Slipper, the TJ Smith classic and the Doncaster Mile. Now, Berry continues to be one of the most sought-after jockeys in Australia.

Average Jockey Income

Horse race betting is a big industry in the US, the UK and around the world. With all the money flowing through this sector, it makes us wonder at times how much a jockey typically earns in top racing meets. A lot of insiders say that they do not earn that much, but if they do win, they get to take home extra moolah. For instance, in the Kentucky Derby US, the jockey riding the winning horse gets 10 percent of the owner’s winning share which is around $1.42 million. So, the jockey’s rake would be around $142,000 which is certainly not bad at all! Meanwhile, the second and third placers take 5 percent of the owner’s share. They take home around $10,000 to $20,000.

On the other hand, losing jockeys do not make that much money. They just get paid per ride and at an average, they take home around $20,000 in a year. Here are some of the average stats related to jockeys’ salaries.

Average Jockey Income Per Ride

Type of JockeyPay per Race
Jump Jockeys£157.72 per ride – US $100-$300
Flat Jockeys£115.52 per ride – US $90-$200

Average Jockey Income Per Year

RaceIncome per Year
Major Races$22,000
Simple Derby Races$15,750 – $18,000

Learn About the Jockey Before You Place Your Bet

The first thing that you should remember when you’re betting on horse races is that anything can happen. It is not all the time that the crowd favourite wins, despite being considerably the best among the rest that’s in the field. As a matter of fact, the favourite only wins races at approximately 30 percent of the time. This is also what makes betting on horse racing so entertaining and fun – outsiders have the chance to win and they do win at excellent odds. Theoretically speaking, any horse can win any race.

Ultimately succeeding in horse race betting does not rely on determining which horse is most likely to finish first. Instead, it is determining the horses which are more likely to win than the odds suggest. This is what many refer to as “value betting.” In this form of betting, you are placing wagers on a horse when the odds are lower than they technically should be. It is worth noting that that sometimes, bookmakers are not accurate when it comes to establishing the odds. Needless to say, there are a lot of opportunities you can take to make good value bets. If you are able to spot these opportunities, you will definitely make more money in the long run.

The difficult part of it though is determining how likely a horse will win. There are various approaches you can take, but unfortunately, there is no exact science involved in doing so. Simply put, there too many unknowns and too many factors to take into consideration that only an approximation can be determined. On the other hand, what you can determine is the most accurate approximation of which horse is most likely to win.

To be able to determine the chances of a horse finishing first in a race, you should consider a number of factors. While there are a lot of information to take into account, one of the factors worth looking at is the jockey. So, does it matter which jockey is riding the horse? The answer to that question is “yes, but only a little.” Avid horse race punters believe that ten percent of a horse’s performance is affected by the jockey. Just by looking at this rough approximation, we can conclude that while a jockey cannot do much with an incompetent horse, he can still contribute to helping an excellent horse win.

A good jockey understands his horse’s weaknesses and strengths. There are horses who prefer keep their pace at the beginning and then just break at the last minute. On the other hand, there are horses who prefer speed and staying ahead of the game the whole time. Some horses prefer racing in close quarters and they can pass along the rail on the left. Others prefer more space and they pass on the right. A skilled jockey considers all these factors and puts out a strategy accordingly.

A perfect example of how a jockey can determine the victory of a horse is Borel’s Derby win. Borel knew that his horse, Mine That Bird, preferred to hang back. Hence, for most of the race, they stayed behind and decided to speed up ahead in the last three-eighths of a mile. Borel was even able to push Mine That Bird through a series of small gaps between the horses. Not all jockeys have the guts to take that necessary risk. Borel definitely knows how to take calculated risks to put his horse ahead of the race.

Excellent jockeys also dedicate time to conduct some research on the competition. They review videos of past race horses and acquire information regarding their opponents. They keep themselves abreast with the latest updates and horse race stats. By doing so, they are able to form a strategy that will help them win against their opponents in upcoming races. Jockeys also study the track. For instance, they need to know how the water runs off. The way in which the water runs off may leave the inner path drier than the rest. Hence, this would be more advantageous for him and his horse. For instance, the Pimlico track, where the Preakness is held, is known for favouring speed horses than those who prefer holding back.

Jockeys also need to have a very particular set of physical characteristics. After all, a jockey has to control a horse at 40 miles per hour. This would mean that an ideal combination of lightness and strength is required. As previously mentioned, the average weight of a jockey is between 105 to 110 pounds. Moreover, days before the race, they are required to eat very little. Last but not the least, jockeys who tend to win have the ability to relate to horses. They have this innate ability to keep the horse calm and controlled in race situations that are tense.

Jockey Factors that Make Winning Bets

When placing wagers on horse racing, the jockey should also be considered. There are some questions you have to ask yourself before you choose the horse and jockey that you would bet on. The first question you have to ask is, “Does the jockey have a solid win percentage?” It is really simple – jockeys who have won on a regular basis typically go on winning. On the other hand, losers keep on losing.

The next factor you have to look into is if the jockey has previously won on the same horse he is riding for the race. Some jockeys work well with particular horses. Hence, it is important for you to look for a horse and jockey combination that have won before.

As you can see, there are definitely several factors that make a good jockey. As a punter, you have to carefully select the jockey based on their past performances as well as their impeccable physical and mental abilities.

What Makes an Excellent Jockey?

Many young people have a passion for feeling the speed and the rush of wind while horseback riding. Some even want to make a career out of it. For these youngsters, becoming a horse racing jockey seems the ideal solution. After all, horse racing is a huge industry in the US, UK and other parts of the world.

So what does it take to enter the horse race industry as a jockey? It can be quite difficult to acquire information about it since there really is no guide or general rule available that will teach you how to become a jockey. However, if you observe the races and the types of jockeys involved, you will learn that most of them share similar traits. Here are some of the factors that can turn a potential jockey into an excellent athlete.

Jockey with the Ideal Size

When people think about what it takes to be a jockey, the first thing that comes to mind is the height. Many think that an aspirant has to be short in order to qualify as a jockey. However, thinking so can be compared to believing that having a briefcase is the only factor that makes a lawyer. The thing is, weight is more important than the height of a jockey. Jockeys just tend to be short because they generally qualify for the weight requirements in thoroughbred racing. An average jockey stands between 5′2″ and 5′4″. There are actually tall jockeys in horse racing, but they are skinny as you could imagine. For instance, Louis Moeller from Denmark who was declared as the tallest jockey in horse racing stands at 6’1” and he weighs 112 pounds. The ideal weight for his height is between 166 to 202 pounds.

At an average, jockeys have an approximate weight of 110 pounds while apprentices or rookies weigh 105 pounds or less. Individuals who are heavier than the said weight should reconsider the idea of becoming a jockey. However, it is still important that weight is not the only factor that makes an excellent jockey.

Brave and Fearless Jockeys

Good jockeys are fearless and they always feel the need for speed. It does take a lot of guts to be a jockey in the horse racing industry. However, above being fearless, riding carefully and responsibly is more important. Excellent jockeys know how to ride carefully. They do so by making sure that they do not take unnecessary risks that would put themselves, other jockeys and the horses in more danger than what is already involved in races. There are times when jockeys are faced with the decision to take a small opening that will warrant such risk. A wise jockey would know when to take the necessary risks. Dangerous decisions and careless riding can bring jockeys and horses to the ground with strong force and some impacts may become fatal. It is always important for a jockey to remember that they are not riding for their own safety and life only, but also for everyone else on the track.

Jockeys with the Ideal Athletic Abilities

Being athletic, being great at sports and having the ability to ride a horse at an incredible speed are some of the ingredients that qualify a person for the job. However, there is still so much more to becoming an excellent jockey. The truth is, the best jockeys in the world have a good sense of pace, patience, calm hands in the reins and patience, among many others.

You may be surprised to hear this, but it is not simply about speed. It is important to remember that in thoroughbred racing, the one who finishes first at the end of the race is the one declared as the winner. This only means that it is all about winning the course and speed is not the only factor in doing so. In order to ensure victory, a jockey must be able to place their horse during the beginning of the race. This means that they should be able to get their horse to relax and have the right pace in order to have enough strength for a strong finish.

Physical strength is also not the only factor that makes an excellent jockey. The ability of a jockey cannot be likened to a baseball player who has to swing his bat with all his might in order to place the ball out of the park. What a jockey does is more similar to a golfer who slowly, smoothly and easily swings their club to hit the ball and bring it long down the fairway. While Thoroughbreds are strong, big and remarkable horses, they do not always have an excellent pair of brakes or power steering. It not all about pushing or pulling the rein – things can get complicated from one horse to another. It is important to note that race horses react depending on how a jockey holds the reins.

Jockeys in Top Physical Condition

In order to ride races successfully, a jockey must be in top physical condition. A lot of people consider jockeys as the fittest athletes across the globe. So, what kind of training does a jockey has to undergo in order to achieve the necessary fitness? Well, jockeys have to train riding racehorses every day. Some start by exercising and riding only one or two race horses during training hours. As time goes by, the number of horses they ride on increases. Aside from riding horses, running, biking, swimming and weightlifting are some of the activities that keep a jockey in top physical condition.

A School for Jockeys

In the US, jockeys traditionally learn and then enter the business through their family members or relatives who are already in the horse racing industry. Before, there was no jockey school in the US. But as the industry grew bigger and more popular, more and more jockey training schools started to launch. Now, in almost every country in the world where horse racing is widely popular, a jockey school or some training program is available. It is best to start out as a kid when planning to make a career out of horse racing. If this young man stays small and light, he has better chances of becoming a jockey.


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