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Jockeys on The All Weather
In the past I have discussed a variety of angles that hopefully has pointed you in the right direction in terms of making profits on the all weather. This week it is the turn of the jockey. In general, jockeys are often backed by armchair punters in multiples / accumulators, while the more serious punter probably takes less notice of them. There is little to choose between the very top jocks – of course we all have our favourites, and those who we don’t like, but are there any jockeys worth following on the all weather? In the first article of this series I discussed four trainer/jockey combinations that have proved profitable in the past at Lingfield. For the record the four jockeys mentioned were George Baker, Phillip Robinson, Neil Callan and Seb Sanders. The good news is that three of the four have had a good winter to date, not just at Lingfield with one particular trainer, but at the four all weather courses combined. Figure 1 shows the jockeys that have achieved the best strike rate this winter on the all weather – the data has been taken from 1st November 2007 to 5th February 2008 with the minimum number of rides being 30. All profit figures for this article are based on £1 level win level stakes (ROI – stands for return on investment; SR – stands for strike rate).
As you can see, three of the jockeys mentioned in that first article – Sanders, Callan and Baker are in the top four in terms of strike rate. You would not have made a fortune backing them “blind” but clearly these are jockeys who ride the all weather extremely well.
Looking in more detail at this winter’s performance, of the fifteen jockeys ten have shown a “blind” profit so far, which is a highly satisfactory effort. The problem with backing jockeys “blind” is that virtually all jockeys lose in the long term; and some very heavily at that. Of course this makes complete sense as you cannot expect to back every single ride and expect to make a profit. To illustrate this point more clearly, I have looked at the top 15 jockeys on the all weather since 2000 with a minimum of 150 rides this time, as it is an 8-year period we are looking at. The results are shown in figure 2 (overleaf).
This table includes a few jockeys who have now retired, but the reason for this list is to illustrate how hard it is for jockeys to make a “blind” profit over a significant period of time. Only two of the fifteen jockeys managed this feat over the 8-year period, compared with ten out of fifteen in the shorter three month period shown in figure 1. Indeed, five jockeys suffered losses of worse than 20%, with the worse being Michael Hills at -37.4%.
The question to be posed therefore is “is there a way to make money by purely backing jockeys?” In general I believe this to be “no”, especially over the longer term. As I mentioned earlier, the 8-year result table (figure 2) illustrates this pretty clearly. However, I am believer that some jockeys can be worth following for short periods at a time. Most punters agree that horses have “form waves” – they run well for a period of time, after which their form tails off for a while and then they hit form again. If you happen to graph a horses’ record you would see something that resembles a “wave” – peaks and troughs as the horse slips in and out of form. I think this can happen for jockeys, albeit to a lesser extent. In-form jockeys seem to ride with more confidence and when they post a series of good results they often start to pick up better spare rides. Hence the good form tends to continue for a little longer. However, these periods rarely extend past a few months at a time. Indeed, the same can happen in reverse with a run of very poor results and most jockeys experience a season with more than one peak and more than one trough.
To illustrate this further let us look at the record of Pat Cosgrave on the all weather in 2007. The first part of the year saw Cosgrove have a very lean time in January and the first half of February (up to Feb 15th). During this period he produced just 4 wins from 69 rides. This equates to a strike rate of less than 6% and during this period backing all his rides would have yielded a loss of £47.97 (ROI -69.4%). However, he rode three winners in the second half of February which signalled a change in fortunes and from the 16th Feb to 13th April he rode 10 winners from only 40 rides (SR 25%) for a profit of £15.57 (ROI +38.9%). Indeed in the middle of this good run he rode 5 winners in just 6 rides! Therefore this was quite a change in fortunes for Cosgrove and a very clear example of a trough followed by a peak.
The all weather kicked into gear again as the turf season started to wind down around the beginning of November. Cosgrove’s first 22 rides in November saw him draw a blank, but the form wave kicked in again after that when he rode 6 winners from his next 16 rides!
As a punter it is not easy to take advantage of these peaks but I believe it is worth taking note of jockeys who ride a couple of quick winners after a lean spell.
Moving on, this all weather season has seen the emergence of a talented young lady jockey – namely Kirsty Milczarek. At the start of the winter she was claiming 5lb as an apprentice jockey and after several winners is now down to 3lb. Her record this winter is worth closer scrutiny:
Strike rate 20.1%
So a tenner on all her mounts this winter would have yielded a healthy profit of £680. Indeed breaking her record down sees that she has made a profit at all four venues (see figure 3).
She has ridden Southwell and Lingfield extremely well this winter with strike rates better than 1 win in every 4 rides. Indeed there are other facts worth noting:
i) her record in handicaps has been far better than non handicaps:
handicaps - 27 wins from 119 (SR 22.7%) for a profit of £87.92 (ROI +73.9%)
non handicaps – 5 wins from 40 (SR 12.5%) for a LOSS of £19.92 (ROI -49.8%);
ii) her record over 1 mile has been excellent with 11 wins from 30. Having said that, rather bizarrely her record over 7f has been poor with only 1 win from 22;
iii) her record with horses carrying low weights has been extremely impressive. When riding at 8st 7lb or lower she has won 10 races from 42 (SR 23.8%) for a healthy profit of £75.38 (ROI +179.5%);
iv) she has ridden 21 favourites and 13 have won! This equates to a strike rate in excess of 60% and profits stand at £16.84 (ROI +80.2%);
v) five trainers have combined well with Kirsty – David Simcock has had 3 wins from 5; Lady Herries 4 wins from 5; Marco Botti 3 wins from 7; Nick Littmoden 3 wins from 8 and Terry Clement 4 wins from 9.
The question for punters at this juncture is whether Kirsty Milczarek is worth following for the remainder of the all weather season. How long will her form wave remain as a peak? Unfortunately it is impossible to be confident one way or the other. One thing is for sure however, she is an excellent jockey and if she is riding a horse which carries your money, you can be assured that she will be giving it 100%.
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