Betting On Horses & The Role Of The Jockey

Betting On Horses & The Role Of The Jockey

December 2, 2020 Off By Lonnie Shade

The impact of the jockey on the outcome of a race is dependent on several factors, all of which must be integrated into the bigger “assessment” picture. Since without the actual horse the race isn’t going anywhere, a good jockey riding a poor horse will necessarily result in a bad bet. But since a poor jockey riding a good horse will typically result in a moderate bet, valuing a jockey from a position of understanding the impact of jockeys on the outcome of races certainly deserves a chapter or two in betting’s big book.

It is however equally true that the reason for a horse losing a race will never necessarily be the fault of the rider, or the jockey – with strong emphasis on “necessarily”. It could simply be due to improper pricing or, a common scenario, the fact that a better horse in that particular race beat the “jockey favourite” pick to the post.

The Horse Runs The Race

To rate a jockey’s ability based on the number of winning horses he has ridden in his career so far is absurd. This would make about as much sense as would rating the firing power of the engine of a Formula 1 car based on the driver in any given race. The engine’s raw power and the driver’s ability are two separate factors and should be taken into account as such when incorporating each into the finished betting formula. The same applies to betting on a horse in a horse racing event.

At the end of the day, what cannot be stressed enough is that it is the legs of the horse putting in the actual work and performance on the track – and not the legs of the rider. The jockey’s ability to ride certainly plays a role, but not nearly as leading a role as the ability of the that jockey happens to be riding in that particular race and on that particular surface.

The Secret Is Fair Comparison

Canadian jockey and Hall of Famer Hedley John Woodhouse, whose career spanned an incredible thirty two years of racing thoroughbred horses at literally every major track in Canada and the United States certainly can be considered a reasonable authority on the topic of the jockey’s impact on the outcome of a race. He had the experience to show for it, after all.

Woodhouse famously compared the question of the rider’s influence on the race to the sort of car driven in a road race. Explained Woodhouse, though not in these exact words, apples need to be compared with apples. Driving a Mercedes AMG F1 W10 EQ Power+ will without fail yield a better performance than what would driving de Dion’s La Marquise. But by the same token, the La Marquise would far outperform even the highest-quality unicycle available on the market today.

The gist of it then: since the jockey must have the horse in order to get anywhere, and not the other way around, it’s pretty much all relative. The fact that a strong correlation exists between jockey ratings and racing strike rates cannot be ignored – the numbers speak for themselves, after all – but the jockey will never make or break the race regardless of the horse doing the actual running.