A jockey is considered as a vital element, almost as a horse, when it comes to success at horse racing. It is not a surprise that the form of a jockey is one of the keenly watched elements by a punter before placing a bet on a horse. Over the years, there have been some stellar jockeys who have made average horses become world beaters.
The ultimate success of a jockey is to get his horse run for him at all costs. Here are some of the top five English jockeys who managed to achieve incredible success in horse racing:
Sir Gordon Richards
Widely regarded as the greatest jockey of all time, Sir Gordon Richards managed to achieve an incredible 4870 career victories while also being crowned as the British Flat Racing Champion Jockey for an astonishing 26 times. Gordon Richards is also the only flat jockey to have been given the knighthood. Some of the significant horses that he rode in his career were Pasch, Reform, Pinza, Tudor Minstrel, and Sun Chariot. Despite having achieved almost every major win in his career, Richards’ jockey career ended without having won the Epsom Derby. A pelvis injury forced Richards to end his riding career in 1954.
Brian Fletcher has a role to play in one of the greatest Grand National records, as he rode Red Rum – the only horse to ever win the Grand National three times – to success in 1973 and 1974. Fletcher almost came close to creating a unique record of three consecutive Grand National wins in 1975, but he was ultimately beaten by Tommy Carberry riding L’Escargot. Even then, Fletcher is part of a unique Grand National club. Incredibly, his first success at Grand National came when he was only 20 and he rode Red Alligator for success.
Another flat jockey, he is regarded as one of the racing’s greatest jockeys in the last five decades. He managed to finish a career with 30 victories in the English classics, a run that also included an incredible nine Derbysuccess. Piggott’s incredible self-discipline was a major factor in keeping his weight below ideal in order to increase the chances of racing success. Piggott also managed to ride some of the greatest post-war champions like Nijinsky, Petite Etoile, Crepello, and Alleged. In a stellar career, he ended up with 4493 wins and was crowned as a champion on 11 occasions.
Born in Brighton, Ryan Moore has become one of the top English jockeys in the last decade. His incredible rise in the sport has been confirmed by the three Champion Jockey titles. He was crowned as the best jockey in 2006, 2008, and 2009. A measure of his importance in the world of horse racing comes when Moore is often called to ride horses belonging to the Queen and Juddmonte Farms. A winner of the Epsom Derby twice – in 2010 and 2013 – Moore has also gone on to experience success at international level by winning major titles like the Melbourne Cup in 2014.
Born in Oxford, Walter Swinburn is often regarded as a big-race specialist. Swinburn came to prominence when he managed to win the Epsom Derby in 1981. This was amongst his first major success, but Swinburn went on to win the same title twice again in his career – 1986 and 1995. Swinburn not only dominated the United Kingdom horse racing scenario, but he alsowon events like the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe to gain international prestige. Swinburn retired from his jockey career in 2011 after having won in eight English classics amongst many other international titles.
An honourable mention should also go to Doug Smith. An English jockey specialising in flat races, Doug Smith was one of the greatest jockeys and he succeeded Sir Gordon Richards after his spell at the top came to an end. Smith ended up with five Champion Jockey titles between 1954 and 1959. He ended his career with a career total of 3112 wins.
In his career, Smith experienced multiple successes at major events like the Goodwood Cup, Doncaster Cup, and Ascot Gold Cup. The incredible potential within Smith was evident even when he was an apprentice. He was crowned as the Champion Apprentice in 1937.
There is a huge risk factor associated with being a jockey. Yet, these are some of the names who have demonstrated incredible grit, determination, and winning mentality to help some of the best animals claim glory while also managing to write their names in the history books.