Create Jockey Ratings to Better Understand Their Performances

When you look at the Jockeys Championship rankings, it is easy to be misled by the number of wins and even the strike rate.

For those with just a passing interest in racing, the likes of Daniel Tudhope and Silvestre De Sousa are worth following because of their higher strike rates. Meanwhile, punters often dismiss out of hand any jockey with a strike rate of 10% or less.


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Yet close examination of how you would do by backing all of a jockey’s rides with a flat stake tells a very different story.

Up until this point in the season during the Flat Jockeys Championship, backing all of Martin Dwyer’s 39 rides would have yielded a profit of 20 units with a strike rate of 13%. Meanwhile, backing all of De Sousa’s rides would result in a loss of 6.22 units, despite a 20%-win rate.

Clearly, as De Sousa is rated as a better jockey, any horse he rides is likely to go off at shorter odds than Dwyer. It is also likely that De Sousa receives ‘better quality’ horses.

It seems unfair to point the finger at a 10%-win rate jockey if he primarily rides outsiders! By the same token, a win or two at long odds can also skew a jockey’s performance.

The way around this is to look at how a jockey has performed in comparison to market expectations. For example, horses in UK races at SP odds of exactly 2.00 have won 44.15% of races since the start of 2015. If a jockey has won more than 44.15%, he has performed better than expected.

In this guide, I will look at a select group of jockeys in Flat races to show you how to rate them more accurately than by strike rate or profit and loss alone. I will analyse their performance according to SP odds groups in UK races only since the beginning of 2015.

Odds of 1.62 or Less

For the record, 65.9% of horses with SP odds of between 1.02 and 1.62 win their races in the UK. Therefore, we need to find riders with a better win percentage and preferably, a profitable ROI for the punter.

For the record, the A/E figure relates to the value of a bet. It looks at the number of expected wins versus the number of actual wins.

We are looking for a number above 1.00.

JockeyBetsWinsStrike RateROI (SP)A/E
L. Dettori332369.7%-0.94%1.00
O. Murphy221672.73%0.84%1.01
J. Fanning301653.33%-25.90%0.75

There isn’t a huge number of rides for any jockey since there have been relatively few horses with SP odds of 1.62 or less since 2015. We see that Dettori and Murphy win a higher amount than average but provide little profit. Joe Fanning has a relatively poor record on hot favourites.

Odds of 1.67 to 2.00

Overall, 53.09% of horses in the odds range mentioned above have won their races. Backing all of these horses blindly would result in a loss of just over 2%.

JockeyBetsWinsStrike RateROI (SP)A/E
S. De Sousa684160.29%10.60%1.10
A. Atzeni503264%18.34%1.18
D. Tudhope341544.12%-19.15%0.81

With plenty of horses fitting the bill, jockeys have had a few more rides in general. It is a touch surprising to discover that top jockeys such as Atzeni and De Sousa not only offer a profit at such short odds, but they also provide value bets.

Odds of 2.10 to 5.00

JockeyBetsWinsStrike RateROI (SP)A/E
A. Kirby48312726.29%-7.22%0.95
D. Probert4009824.50%-10.83%0.86
L. Morris4028320.65%-26.18%0.74
L. Dettori46313228.51%-1.91%0.97
W. Buick57818131.31%9.22%1.07

We now enter the realm of horses with less than a 50% chance of winning the race. There have been more than 28,000 horses that have set off at odds of between 2.10 and 5.00, so the data is likely to be more meaningful. Since the beginning of 2015, just 25.51% of such runners have been victorious.

Most jockeys don’t fare well in this price range. Perceptions are also a funny thing. Frankie Dettori is typically associated with short-priced horses, but he wins more than the average in a slightly longer price range.

William Buick performs best of all with a profit of over 9% and an eye-catching 31% win-rate. More importantly, following his rides in this price bracket would result in a profit in each of the last five years!

Odds of 5.50 to 11.00

With over 50,000 bets, there is even more data to look at. 10.89% of horses within this odds range win the race.

JockeyBetsWinsStrike RateROI (SP)A/E
J. Spencer6717711.48%-13.56%0.87
R. Moore674639.35%-32.42%0.68
P. J McDonald86911613.35%1.32%1.03
J. Doyle6668612.91%-5.11%0.96
J. Watson1762715.34%8.52%1.13

Although four of the jockeys beat the average strike rate, only two have an A/E score of over 1.00, and they are the only two profitable jockeys. Rising star Jason Watson has the best win rate and ROI, but he is enduring a wretched 2019 to date.

Odds of 12.00 to 26.00

Over 45,000 horses fit the bill, and just 4.51% of them win the race. Finding winners at odds of between 12.00 and 26.00 takes immense skill and a bit of luck, and it is helpful to know if any jockey specialises in long shots.

JockeyBetsWinsStrike RateROI (SP)A/E
R. Kingscote440245.45%-8.18%0.89
R. Havlin216125.56%3.24%0.92
A. Atzeni373225.90%-4.02%0.92
H. Bentley361236.37%-1.66%1.03
B. Curtis547295.30%-12.25%0.88

It is a perpetual struggle to find outsider winners, and while Harry Bentley easily wins more than the average and has an A/E figure of above 1.00, he still isn’t profitable. Only Robert Havlin boosts your bank balance.

Odds of 29.00+

These horses are rank outsiders and few punters ever back a single winner at odd of 29.00+. This is primarily because just 1.01% of these horses win. Therefore, there is no sense in looking for successful jockeys in this range because it is almost pure luck.

Final Thoughts

The point of this exercise is to show you that there is a lot more to a jockey’s performance than his/her mere strike rate or ROI. The ideal jockey is one who performs well in almost every price range. Certain jockeys, such as Frankie Dettori, are pigeonholed, with punters believing that they only win on short-priced horses.

When you dig a little deeper, you may be surprised by what you find. William Buick is another jockey associated with short-priced favourites, but he fares well in the 2.10 to 5.00 odds range.

The above isn’t an exact science by any means, but it is certainly useful to know if a horse’s jockey is something of an expert, in short, medium, or long odds winners. This information could give you a crucial edge over the bookmaker.

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