What’s in a Name? Why You Shouldn’t Back a Horse Based Solely on its Jockey

Punters with a casual interest in racing regularly back a horse simply because there is a ‘big name’ jockey on board. Bookmakers absolutely love this line of thinking as it means you’ve given little thought to the quality of the horse. We have to remember that it is called horse racing, not jockey racing!

There is no question that a good jockey is often the difference between winning and losing a big race, but we’re talking about fine margins. Richard Johnson will not help an overmatched horse win nor will Frankie Dettori, Ruby Walsh, Luke Morris or any other top jockey. What they will do is give a good horse every chance of winning and occasionally use their skill to guide an unfancied mount to victory. Good jockeys are worth their weight in gold, but they are not miracle workers.


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This guide is all about showing you the dangers of placing bets solely because a well-known jockey is on board. However, during the course of my research, I discovered some fascinating and exciting things about certain jockeys; so read on to find out more!

When the National Hunt season takes centre stage, I will look at Jump jockeys, but in this piece, I focus on riders in Flat and All-Weather events.

Don’t Believe the Hype

For simplicity’s sake, I will focus on 3 well-known Flat jockeys to show you why it is a foolish mistake to throw your money at them without analysing their mount.

Jim Crowley

Crowley is third in the Stobart Flat Jockey’s Championship in 2017 at the time of writing. If you back all 291 of his mounts in 2017, you would have an ROI loss of 16.15%. In fact, over the last 5 seasons, you would lose substantially regardless of whether you backed him on turf or All-Weather.

Luke Morris

Morris is a world famous jockey, but if you backed all 1195 of his mounts over the last 3 years, you would be very silly and suffer an ROI loss of 25.91%. This is mainly because of the incredibly low strike rate of 10.38%. Even though his strike rate is much higher at 18.52% with horses trained by Sir Mark Prescott, you still suffer an ROI loss of 33.83%. Did you know that Morris once went 82 races without winning back in May 2011?

Ryan Moore

Moore is ranked second in the Jockey’s Championship in 2017, but if you backed all 961 of his mounts since the start of the 2015 season, your ROI loss would be 8.39%.

So, I Should Completely Ignore Jockeys Then?

Wait, not so fast! I was planning to zoom in on the three jockeys above to narrow the focus and find profitable angles, but instead, I found something very interesting indeed. It turns out that there are some jockeys that offer profit even if you close your eyes when betting on them!

Silvestre de Souza

De Souza is leading the Stobart Flat Jockeys Championship 2017 at the time of writing with 66 wins this season at a strike rate of 22%. Backing all of De Souza’s 316 mounts blindly in the calendar year 2017 would yield an ROI of 19.01% at Betfair.

In fact, backing all of his 2,685 rides (471 wins) since the beginning of the 2013 Flat season would yield a profit of 17.18% with only one bad season; in 2016 when you would have a loss of 11.35%. Otherwise, it is double digit profit in the other 4 seasons.

If you wish to narrow your focus, check out his Class 2 races. He offers an ROI of 59.24% over the last 5 seasons, but you would suffer a loss in 2015 and 2016 so be wary. De Souza also does well in Class 6 events with an ROI of 27.89% since 2013. Stay away from de Souza in Class 3 races as it is the only Class of race where he loses you money overall.

Frankie Dettori

Dettori is another high-quality jockey that has provided punters with joy in recent years. Although you would sustain losses following him blindly in races in 2013 and 2014, you would enjoy a profit of 17.93% since the start of the 2015 season from 772 bets including an excellent ROI of 29.88% so far this season. Dettori has won over 21% of his races in each of the last three seasons which explains the upturn in fortunes.

It is best to focus on non-handicap races when Dettori is involved as you enjoy a 32.65% profit; he wins over 25% of his non-handicap races which is an enormous amount in Flat racing. In races with 1-10 runners, the win rate goes to over 29% and your ROI increases to 38.52%.

For the record, he has performed unbelievably well in Sprint races of 5-7f since 2015 with an incredible 37% win rate and an eye-popping Betfair ROI of 84.98%. Alas, there has only been 116 such bets in almost 3 years, but these events are well-worth waiting for.

To recap, here is how to get the best out of Dettori:

  • 5-7 furlong Races
  • 1-10 Runners
  • Non-Handicap

William Buick

Buick is probably unfamiliar to all but the most hardened Flat racing enthusiasts, but this relatively young Norwegian jockey is well worth following. Since the start of the 2013 season, backing all of his 2050 rides would result in an ROI of 11.95% on Betfair; he has been profitable for the punter in each of the last four seasons. In 2017 to date, backing all 195 of his rides (47 wins) would provide you with an ROI of 71.82%.

Buick is an excellent proposition in non-handicap races with an ROI of 16.7% since 2013 with each of the last 5 seasons offering profit; the ‘worst’ season was in 2016 when you would ‘only’ earn 5.73% profit.

If you want to filter his entries even further, focus on races between 1 mile and 1m 4f. He has won almost 21% of his 510 races for a Betfair ROI of 37.57%. Here is a quick recap to get the best out of Buick:

  • Races between 1m and 1m 4f.
  • Non-Handicap

The Final Word

It seems incredible to think that you can make money just by betting on every ride of a certain jockey. However, with a little research, you can filter your selections and be far more efficient. It is also a fact that following some of the most popular jockeys is a disaster waiting to happen. As always, punters should be smart and do their homework if they want to profit in the long-term.