One of the first calls of caution I received when I took an interest in horse racing was this: don’t expect to make money following jockeys.

It’s something I’ve remembered all those years. It’s why I have never been one for jockey fixation; that is, backing a jockey through thick and thin, and ignoring whether his mounts have real prospects or next to zero.

I know some blokes who do it and claim success. I can’t verify their claims, but they keep on making them.

“Beadman forever!” one of my mates cried out in the pub recently after Darren had ridden yet another Sydney winner. This bloke meant it. Beadman could be riding a broomstick and he’d back it.

Yet there are many reminders that jockeys can strike absolutely barren patches even though they possess oodles of talent and have, up to that point, been enjoying huge success.

Blake Shinn is an example. He was wallowing in success on city and country tracks but, suddenly, the wins dried up. In the city he was on good horses (and some bad ones) but no matter what he couldn’t ride a winner. It took 73 losers before he rode a city winner again.

That’s a heck of a losing run by any standards. Those punters who had earlier won heaps on Shinn’s rides may well have been wiped out following him through that horrendous losing streak.

Of course, we cannot get away from the fact that jockeys are an integral part of the form for any race. They MUST be taken into account.

Ratings crunchers will give penalties and bonuses for jockeys. At the moment, I know that top professionals are rating Michael Rodd very highly. Some ratings men give him a two lengths’ advantage. He can, they say, mean the difference between winning and losing.

Imagine the situation for yourself: You have narrowed the chances down to two. One is ridden by a jockey best known for his country and provincial winners, the other chance has Rodd, or perhaps Beadman or Boss aboard. You can only back one of them. So which will it be?

I’d say that in nine out of 10 instances you would be wise to give the nod to the better rider. It makes sense. Long term it will see you ahead of the game.

Finally, a few thoughts from Daniel O’Sullivan of The Rating Bureau, which may help you formulate an approach.



  • If you want to improve your betting results then you should consider the jockey in your decision making process.
  • In saying that, remember that jockeys are just one of the primary factors you should consider. Never bet a horse just because of the jockey engaged or the trainer/jockey combination. Other primary factors must also support the horse as a good betting proposition.
  • Always base your assessment of jockeys on hard facts, not public perception.
  • If your horse is likely to race on the lead then you can allow a little more latitude with the jockey.
  • On the other hand, if your horse usually settles somewhere from off the pace to back in the field then the significance of the jockey increases. Moderate and poor jockeys on horses that need to make up ground in the straight to win are usually poor betting propositions.
  • Be wary about betting horses with a significant negative jockey change or poor trainer/jockey combination, particularly if the horse is coming off a break or racing in less than ideal conditions.
  • Avoid betting selections to be ridden by a jockey with a poor overall/recent performance record, even if they have won on the horse before. In terms of statistics, anything less than a 14 per cent strike rate on rides less than or equal to 10/1 is a concern.
  • There will be times that inferior jockeys do win on your fancied horse, but in the long run they are a losing proposition. Your aim should be to only make good bets and that requires both a good horse and good jockey.

By Philip Roy