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Jockeys And Running Styles

Jockeys And Running Styles

In this article I am going to revisit the whole question of pace or running styles, which regular readers will know is an area of research I have a great interest in.

As I have mentioned before, knowing how a race is likely to “pan out” in terms of a “pace angle” can give you a valuable insight, which in turn can lead to that all important “edge” over your fellow punters. I have used the “pace angle” more and more in my personal betting be it pre race or “in running” and I would argue, along with draw bias, it is the most effective ‘weapon’ in my betting.

For this article I have taken data from 1st January 2006 to the end of the flat season in 2010 and I have concentrated on 5-6f 2yo maidens; and 5-6f handicaps.

My pace research usually focuses on horses and / or courses. I also have crunched some trainer stats in the past but for this article I have decided to focus on jockeys. The reason I have decided to look at jockeys is that I believe that a jockey can make a difference in sprint races – more often than not in sprints, it is important to race up with the pace, and hence I want to find jockeys that consistently do that. I also want to see if there is any difference in tactics depending on the type of the race; eg. do jockeys employ similar tactics in sprint handicaps as they do in 2yo maiden sprints?

To begin with let us see which jockeys took the early lead the most (in % terms) in 2yo 5-6f maidens. I have considered jockeys who have led early in at least 15% of races and have had at least 30 rides over the period of study:

Jockey Led % Number or rides
P Robinson 24.00 150
J Fanning 23.71 232
L Betts 22.58 31
R Hughes 21.89 402
N Callan 21.73 336
T Dean 21.62 74
A Nicholls 21.48 149
J Millman 20.00 50
R Kingscote 19.02 205
Greg Fairley 18.59 156
P Donaghy 18.46 65
P Doe 18.18 77
Darren Williams 18.18 33
P Mulrennan 17.55 302
Catherine Gannon 17.52 137
J-P Guillambert 17.02 141
C Catlin 16.71 353
R Winston 16.56 151
J P Spencer 16.17 266
Dean McKeown 16.16 99
P Fessey 16.00 75
S Sanders 15.79 323
N De Souza 15.63 32
L Dettori 15.58 154
Andrew Heffernan 15.00 60


For those of you who watch a lot of racing, certain names near the top of the table will come as no surprise. Philip Robinson who tops the list is renowned for his jockeyship from the front and clearly he and the trainers he rides for seem to understand the importance of getting to the front early on. It should be noted that when Robinson has led early in these 5-6f 2yo maidens he has gone onto win 30% of the time. Indeed, when his rides for his boss Michael Jarvis he has led early 32% of the time, going on to win 35% of the time.

Joe Fanning, second in list, rides primarily for Mark Johnston and when riding a Johnston horse he takes an early lead in 31.6% of the time. Indeed, it should be noted that if he holds a Johnston 2yo up, it is a sign for “in running” punters to effectively strike a line through it – he has gone onto win just once with 27 hold up runners.

Jamie Spencer’s name may surprise some of you, as he is renowned for holding his mounts up and coming with a late run. However, in 5-6f 2yo maidens he takes an early lead roughly 1 race in every 6 and when he does lead he has gone on to win a superb 37% of the time. Clearly when he leads early he is confident of success.

Let us move on to jockeys that lead early the least in % terms:

Jockey Led % Number or rides
R Kennemore 5.97 67
S J Craine 5.77 52
J E Moriarty 5.75 87
P Pickard 5.71 35
D Fox 5.41 37
I Mongan 5.31 113
P J McDonald 5.13 117
N Chalmers 4.62 65
Kelly Harrison 4.35 46
Luke Morris 3.94 127
J Mackay 3.70 54
P Hills 2.63 38
D Tudhope 2.53 79
D Nolan 2.38 42
N Mackay 1.19 84
S Golam 0.81 123


A few jockeys are in the list due to the quality of animal they tend to ride, but Nicky Mackay for example has some decent rides in 2yo maidens but clearly he is not keen to go to the front early!

Let us see if the same names appear when we focus on sprint handicaps. Firstly, those jockeys with the highest led early percentages – once again the cut-off point will be 15%:

Jockey Led % Number or rides
N Pollard 23.53 51
P Robinson 21.90 210
Mr M Davies 21.88 192
N De Souza 19.70 66
N Callan 18.15 865
P Cosgrave 17.96 529
K Ghunowa 17.87 403
D Fox 17.86 84
T Hamilton 17.62 562
L Dettori 17.39 230
A Nicholls 16.78 608
M Fenton 16.70 503
J Millman 16.40 189
Martin Dwyer 16.19 488
R Kingscote 16.04 374
S Carson 16.00 200
P Mulrennan 15.04 685


It should be noted that you would expect the percentages to be slightly lower overall in sprint handicaps due to the fact there are generally bigger fields for these races and hence overall the led percentages will be lower. Robinson is again high on the list and the advantage of his running style/riding tactics can be seen from the fact you would have made a blind profit at SP backing him in all 5-6f handicaps over the 5 year period. One jockey worth noting over the minimum trip of 5f is Pat Cosgrove - he has been successful 29% of the time when leading early.

Let us move on to jockeys that lead early the least in % terms:

Jockey Led % Number or rides
K Fallon 6.85 146
Kim Tinkler 6.84 117
N Mackay 6.67 225
Dale Gibson 6.35 394
G Baker 6.12 425
S Whitworth 6.02 133
Mr J Mitchell 5.88 187
Luke Morris 5.83 549
P Dobbs 5.80 207
R Fitzpatrick 5.77 208
J Mackay 5.22 115
T E Durcan 4.98 402
J E Moriarty 4.84 248
B McHugh 4.81 208
T Block 4.10 195
P P Mathers 3.90 385
D Tudhope 3.66 355
O Urbina 2.88 104
P M Quinn 2.82 213


Kieran Fallon is renowned for his strength in the saddle and his late bursts, so it is no surprise to see him lead rarely. However, he does better in sprints when he races closer to the pace so I find it difficult to appreciate why he does not try and race more handily more often. To illustrate this, he has held up over 60% of his sprint handicap mounts, and of those 60%, less than 9% have won. Compare this with his 16% strike rate for horses he has taken to the lead early or have raced close to the pace.

In order to give myself a complete picture I produce jockey pace ratings – I give points dependent on running style; for example horses that lead early score 5 points, horses that gain comments such as ‘chased leaders’ or ‘tracked leaders’ get 3.5 points; horses that are held up ‘behind’ get 1.5 points. I then average the total points score for each jockey to give them a pace rating. Here are my ratings for 5-6f 2yo maidens. They are ordered highest first:

Jockey Pace value
P Robinson 3.35
N Callan 3.27
J Fanning 3.26
R Hughes 3.22
Greg Fairley 3.21
A Nicholls 3.12
Darren Williams 3.05
R Kingscote 3.03
L Dettori 3.03
David Probert 3.02
J F Egan 3.02
P Mulrennan 3.01
S Sanders 3.01
R Winston 2.99
G Gibbons 2.95
R Havlin 2.94
P Doe 2.94
J Fortune 2.94
R L Moore 2.93
J P Spencer 2.93
A Munro 2.92
J Millman 2.92
R Hills 2.91
C Catlin 2.90
Andrew Heffernan 2.89
S De Sousa 2.87
L Betts 2.87
Jim Crowley 2.85
T Dean 2.85
D Allan 2.84
D Holland 2.83
P Hanagan 2.83
J-P Guillambert 2.82
Catherine Gannon 2.81
Dean McKeown 2.81
K Fallon 2.81
L P Keniry 2.81
R Mullen 2.80
Frederik Tylicki 2.80
S Hitchcott 2.80
S O'Hara 2.78
T Eaves 2.78
M Fenton 2.78
E Ahern 2.77
P Dobbs 2.77
Kirsty Milczarek 2.77
F Norton 2.77
Martin Lane 2.77
P Makin 2.76
Dane O'Neill 2.76
A Elliott 2.75
P Cosgrave 2.75
R Ffrench 2.75
S W Kelly 2.74
Paul Eddery 2.74
N De Souza 2.73
A Culhane 2.73
P Donaghy 2.73
T Hamilton 2.73
T P Queally 2.72
M Hills 2.71
Kim Tinkler 2.71
K Ghunowa 2.70
J Doyle 2.69
William Buick 2.68
A McCarthy 2.68
P Pickard 2.67
J M O'Dwyer 2.67
J F McDonald 2.66
Stephen J Craine 2.66
R Fitzpatrick 2.66
A Kirby 2.65
J Dean 2.65
B McHugh 2.64
R Kennemore 2.63
Martin Dwyer 2.63
Liam Jones 2.63
F Lynch 2.62
T P O'Shea 2.61
D O'Donohoe 2.61
D Sweeney 2.61
Hayley Turner 2.60
P Hills 2.59
S Drowne 2.59
S Carson 2.58
M Stainton 2.57
Mr J Mitchell 2.56
Mr M Davies 2.56
G Baker 2.54
L Enstone 2.54
D Nolan 2.54
I Mongan 2.54
Dale Gibson 2.54
J E Moriarty 2.53
E Creighton 2.52
Kelly Harrison 2.52
T G McLaughlin 2.51
R Thomas 2.50
Andrea Atzeni 2.50
J Quinn 2.50
A Mullen 2.49
Luke Morris 2.49
P J McDonald 2.48
T E Durcan 2.48
W A Carson 2.47
D Fentiman 2.47
N Pollard 2.46
D Kinsella 2.45
P Fitzsimons 2.44
N Mackay 2.42
M Halford 2.42
T Block 2.42
Sophie Doyle 2.40
S Whitworth 2.38
P M Quinn 2.37
J P Sullivan 2.36
S Donohoe 2.35
N Chalmers 2.34
D Tudhope 2.32
P P Mathers 2.29
O Urbina 2.27
D Fox 2.18
J Mackay 2.11
Saleem Golam 2.00
Billy Cray 1.93


Some of you may be thinking this is all very well, but are these figures really important? I will answer this with my own question – do you know how many 5-6f 2yo maidens are won from the front?

I suppose for that question to make sense I need to answer it ... 29%. Now do you believe me?

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