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Strengths and weaknesses of jockeys

Strengths and weaknesses of jockeys

I must admit that in the past, the last thing that concerned me when betting on a horse was the jockey. Of course I would be happier if some jockeys were riding than others, and there were occasions when I would not bet the horse solely due to the jockey. However, in general it was not a factor that I really thought made a difference. That is until more recently when I have been creating sets of jockey ratings – I have done overall ratings, sprint ratings and win & placed ratings so far and will doubtless do more. This article is not going to give away my rating ‘secrets’, but it is hopefully going to show you that some jockeys do have strengths and weaknesses. The article looks at flat data going back to the year 2006.

Frankie Dettori – let’s start with the jockey all the housewives love. Of course he is a very good jockey, but there is plenty of value digging deep into his riding record. Let us look at some negative stats:

  • Riding for his boss Saeed Bin Suroor in class 1 contests has seen him ride 54 winners from 319. This may not seem too bad – the strike rate is nearly 17%, but if you look at the returns backing all runners would have yielded a loss of over 43 pence in the £. (The ROI to be precise is -43.2%). Digging deeper if the horse in question is NOT the favourite, the record reads a dismal 13 winners from 205 (SR 6.3%) for a hefty loss of £136.09 (ROI -66.4%);


  • When Dettori is booked, most punters would see this as a positive. However, there are 117 trainers who he has ridden for and not ridden a winner!


  • Despite the memory of his ‘Magnificent Seven’ at Ascot, his recent course record has seen just 21 winners from 239 (SR 8.8%) for a loss of £106.45 (ROI -44.5%);


  • His record on outsiders is desperate. Horses priced 12/1 or bigger have provided just 5 winners from 308 (SR 1.6%) for losses of £200.00 (ROI -64.9%).


However, before we discard Dettori to the jockey scrapheap there are some positive angles:

  • It is an excellent jockey when taking the lead early in the race. He has gone onto win one race in every three. Indeed at race distances of 1m1f or more this strike rate increases to a quite staggering 42.8%. This figure is based on 138 runners, so the sample is certainly big enough;


  • You would have made a 3% return if backing all his mounts that started favourite;


  • He rides the all weather courses well breaking even thanks to a decent overall strike rate of 27%. Indeed, if you ignore sprint races (5 & 6f) on the all weather his record reads 67 winners from 209 rides (SR 32.1%) for a profit of £35.60 (ROI +17%);


  • Frankie has an excellent record on horses sired by Singspiel. Now, Singspiel when he was racing is a horse Dettori struck up a brilliant relationship with winning 5 races from 6 rides. Could it be that Singspiel’s offspring can be affected by the ‘Frankie factor’? The stats seem to suggest so, as of the 24 horses sired by Singspiel he has ridden, he has won on 14 of them. Indeed, of the 10 others he has finished placed on 8 of them. Backing all offspring of Singspiel when ridden by the Italian would have yielded 18 winners from 43 (SR 41.8%) for a profit of £16.44 (ROI + 38.2%). I am not an expert on sire progeny and whether they have similar traits; if so then these figures could be valid. If not, then it is simply a statistical quirk.

Some positives and some negatives then for Frankie.

Richard Hills – Hills is not a jockey I am a big fan of, so thought it was prudent to see whether the stats backed up my feeling. I found somewhat surprisingly there were not as many negative angles as I had expected:

  • Just 3 wins in Group 1 races from 58 runners. This of course may be more down to the quality of horses that he has ridden, although he has ridden 20 horses that started in the top 4 of the betting, with only 2 managing to win;


  • He has ridden for Brian Meehan 23 times and managed just 1 success; he has fared worse for Mark Tompkins with 0 wins from 24;


  • His strike rate in races of 1m4f+ is only 12.3%. Compare this to his record at 1m3f or shorter which sees a strike rate of 17.5%.

Here are some positives I found:

  • As with Dettori is good from the front winning over 29% of races when taking an early lead. This improves to 33.3% in handicaps (34 wins from 102);


  • He has a decent record at Newmarket losing around 4 pence in the £. Indeed, focusing on runners at HQ trained by either Barry Hills, John Gosden or Mark Johnston would have yielded a tidy combined profit;


  • When he teams up with trainer Willie Haggas in non juvenile races his record reads 34 wins from 128 (SR 26.6%) for a profit of £47.06 (ROI +36.8%).


All in all then Hills is a steady enough jockey, but still one I am slightly wary of.

Philip Robinson – Robinson has long been one of my favourites jockeys. Let us see if the positives outweigh the negatives, but first, as with the other jockeys, let’s start with the negs:

  • Just 5 wins from 97 in Group races. However, the average price of each runners has been 16/1 so all in all, you have expected only 1 more winner at those prices;


  • Just 1 win from 29 at Salisbury, but he has had 9 placed runners;


  • Robinson has a poor record when his horse sports blinkers. Just 3 wins from 58 (SR 5.1%) for a loss of £35.50 (ROI -60.2%).


Now for some positives:

  • He rides Leicester and Yarmouth particularly well with strike rates of 25.9% and 28.6% respectively. Both courses have produced good profits and considering the average price of his rides have been 15/2 at Leicester and 8/1 at Yarmouth, his win & placed strike rates of 54% and 55% are outstanding;


  • When ridden for his boss Michael Jarvis in maiden races he has managed to ride 100 winners from 354 runners (SR 28.2%) for a profit of £57.75 (ROI +16.3%). This improves to 61 wins from 173 (SR 35.3%) when focusing on 3yos in maidens. Profits stand at +£53.54 (ROI +30.9%);


  • Robinson has ridden in 78 Auction races winning 22 and being placed in a further 22 for a profit of £43.62 (ROI +55.9%);


  • Backing all his runners that have started in the top 5 of the betting would have produced a nominal profit. This is a fine effort from over 1250 runners.


There has been nothing in my findings that has made me change my mind about Robinson. I still rate him as one of the top jocks.

Neil Callan – Callan is a jockey I like to trade on, especially in sprints as he likes to lead when possible. Let us see what the whole story offers us:

  • Has a poor record with his boss Kevin Ryan at Newmarket. Just 2 winners from 62. Indeed his overall record at HQ is poor with a strike rate floundering at under 6%;


  • For “in running” punters it is worth noting that if he holds up a 2yo early in the race, his success rate is only 7%.


It is difficult to find my negatives for Callan. Here are some positives:

  • He rides Wolverhampton very well. A strike rate of 19.5% shows this (his overall strike rate is 13.9%). He has made a small profit as well despite have had over 500 rides;


  • As expected he has a good record from the front, but it is even more impressive over the minimum trip of 5 furlongs with a strike rate of 29.4%;


  • Callan has a strike rate of over 23% when riding for Michael Jarvis showing a profit of £26.53 (ROI +11.5%);


  • When riding horses wearing blinkers, Callan has won on 17% of them producing profit of just under 10 pence in the £. This is an excellent effort considering horses wearing blinkers only win around 8% of all races.


I do feel Callan is an underrated jockey, and looking at his stats as a whole I have found far more positives than negatives.

I never thought I would spend so much time looking at jockey stats, but I do think there is some value in it. It is important though at appreciate that this is simply another piece of the puzzle.


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