Horse racing jockeys are some of the hardest working athletes in the world of sport. Traditionally small in stature, these immensely strong riders have to face danger and display supreme levels of endurance and skill if they want to be successful. Here, we’ll take a closer look at five of the most famous jockeys, both from the past and current, who have staked a claim to greatness in the ‘Sport of Kings’. Read on to find out more about what makes a great horse jockey!
Sir Anthony Peter McCoy, to give him his full title, is one of Ireland’s finest ever horse racing jockeys. Usually referred to as Tony McCoy or AP McCoy, he grew up in Moneyglass in Northern Ireland, and won his first race at the age of 17. He rode winners to victory in iconic events like the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle. McCoy was British Jump Racing Champion Jockey on 20 occasions, and was the only jockey to ever win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, in 2016. Fans of horse racing in Scotland will also know that he won the Scottish Grand National.
Ruby Walsh is another great Irish jockey who has enjoyed much of his success in the UK as well as in his home country. The son of a former amateur jockey, Walsh grew up in County Kildare, and his talent was apparent from a very young age. He won the Grand National at his first attempt at the classic race in 2000, riding a horse trained by his father. Walsh has won more times at the Cheltenham Festival than any other jockey, and has also triumphed overseas in races like the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan, and the Grand National Hurdle Stakes in the USA.
Milan-born Frankie Dettori sprang to fame in the UK, after moving there to work as a stable boy for Luca Cumani at the age of 16 in 1986. The Italian is one of the most successful flat horse racing jockeys of all time, with over 3000 career wins to his name to date. He has won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe a record six times, and also won major international races like the Hong Kong Cup, Breeders’ Cup Classic and Derby Italiano. Probably his most famous feat came in 1996, when he won all seven races at the Royal Ascot Festival, an achievement that is yet to be matched.
Shaun Bridgmohan was born in Jamaica but moved to Florida in the USA when he was 13. After winning his first professional race in 1997, Bridgmohan won all six races on the card at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York, in February 1998. He repeated this feat in December, 2007 at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. By 2017, Bridgmohan had collected over 3000 victories, and has even been mentioned in hip hop songs, such is his cultural influence.
Born in 1971 in Puerto Rico, where he began his career as a jockey, John Velazquez moved to New York in 1990. After beginning his career under the tutelage of jockey Angel Cordero Jr, Velazquez has won races at the Breeders’ Cup over 15 times, as well as triumphing in international races such as the Dubai World Cup and the King’s Stand Stake. Significantly, Velazquez is the highest-earning jockey of all time, having collected $415 million in earnings so far in his career. Having won over 6000 total races in his career, he also became a member of the American National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2012.
How to bet on horse racing
Knowing about the jockey’s skills and recent feats is a vital part of knowing how to bet on horse racing. As with all kinds of sports betting, the more you know about horse racing, the more likely you are to place successful bets. It is important to look at how jockeys have performed in recent races if you want to properly assess your chosen horse’s chances of winning.
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Horse racing jockeys are some of the world’s toughest and most committed athletes. While we have covered some of the truly great names here, there are many thousands of jockeys who never reach these heights but work back-breakingly hard. Successful bettors always pay close attention to jockeys when planning their bets.